Plus dinner ideas for your weight loss journey!
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Being healthy is more than body size and shape. And while you don't have to lose weight to be healthier, you might have weight loss goals you want to achieve. Knowing what to eat to support your weight loss journey, nourish your body and give you energy is easier (and more delicious) than you might think. With these suggestions, you can build a satisfying, weight loss friendly dinner (that includes dessert).

Start with a Green Salad

Shaved Radish, Celery & Cucumber Salad
Credit: Eva Kolenko

Start your supper with a salad. Back in 2004, research out of Penn State published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that eating a first-course salad can cut your overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12%. A vegetable-packed salad is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition to other amazing benefits, fiber slows down your digestion and helps you stay satisfied longer. Your salad doesn't have to be very elaborate—adding a simple vinaigrette to mixed greens works. And if you can add a few extra veggies on top (like sliced cucumber or shredded carrot), even better.

Incorporate Lean Proteins

Hasselback Caprese Chicken

Pictured Recipe: Hasselback Caprese Chicken

Protein plays many essential roles in the body, such as promoting satiety, supporting injury recovery, maintaining muscle mass and aiding the immune system. In other words, protein is a must in our diet to ensure overall health. Moreover, protein can help you achieve your weight loss goals. According to a 2018 study published in Nutrition, adding fiber and lean protein to your diet can help reduce your weight. When choosing protein foods, look for leaner ones such as chicken breast, lean beef, fish, dairy products, eggs, tofu or legumes.

Don't Forget about Whole Grains

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Pictured Recipe: Black Bean-Quinoa Bowl

You probably already know that for overall health you should be opting for whole grains. When trying to lose weight, whole grains are also a great supporter. Whole grains are rich in fiber—and as you already know, fiber helps you feel more satisfied. Besides, the fiber in whole grains could help decrease inflammation. Whole grains are also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, such as folate and iron, that will keep you nourished and feeling your best. Another great thing is that they're very versatile, you can add them as a side dish or part of your main dish. Some whole-grain foods include: brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, farro, oats and whole-wheat bread.

There's Room for Dessert

Strawberry-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark

Wanting to achieve weight loss—or any healthy goal—doesn't mean that dessert can't be part of your meal. Though it's important to limit added sugars, you can certainly have something sweet. Fruits, for example, are a good option for your journey. They are naturally sweet and are rich in nutrients. Dark chocolate is another great addition—it is full of rich flavor and a the darker the chocolate, the less added sugar it typically has.

Additionally, a restrictive diet is not a sustainable and good way to lose weight, and can actually have negative effects on your healthy eating efforts. Removing access to sweet foods—or any food—stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you're afraid, anxious or stressed, says Pietro Cottone, Ph.D., who has done research on motivated behaviors. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods.