I have been a vegetarian, who eats fish as well, for many years.
I am currently trying to lose weight. I have used couscous as my primary food with extras added. Can you tell me if it is high in calories, as I do not seem to be losing.
I am not eating any hidden calories as some slimming classes would suggest, and I exercise often. Should I cut out the couscous? Your advice would be appreciated. Regards - D. P.
Dear D. P.,
Here are some things that could make you gain weight:
1. Fish is generally low cal, but some fish are a lot higher in calories than others, especially packed in oil, or fried.
2. Soy, because it's high in fat, and because if you have low thyroid, soy will make you gain weight. Or if you're past menopause, when everything makes you gain weight!
3. Processed food, which often is high in fat and sugar, plus sodium and other ingredients that make you gain weight. Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are in a lot of processed food and are Bad For You.
4. High Fat Foods: Fried food, dairy and eggs, mayo, salad dressing, oils, chocolate, sugar, nut butter, nuts and seeds. It doesn't take much! Of all these foods, nuts and seeds are the one thing you shouldn't cut out - they're packed with nutrition and good fats - just eat in moderation. Sugar is empty calories, and interferes with digestion and absorption, metabolism, blood sugar, etc, etc.
5. Couscous is a refined grain (wheat) and one of the highest calorie carbs. One cup cooked has 176 calories. If you eat three cups a day, that's 522 calories, which is probably a good chunk of your ideal daily calorie count.
Whole grains will give you a lot more vitamins, minerals and protein, and less calories in the same amount. Try eating whole grains and some different grains too, like brown or basmati rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat, spelt, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, rye. Here are a couple of links with info about grains:Mayo Clinic - Whole Grains Recipe Tips - Grain Nutrition
I don't know your age, but from my own experience, once you reach menopause, just about everything you eat turns to fat! I find that if I eat a lot more of veggies and fruit, and less of carbs, fats and protein, I keep things in balance. But of course diet is a completely individual thing.
I am 54 and already through menopause. I don't eat all the things you spoke of, i.e. nuts, soya, fried foods. I tend to eat the same things every day, loads of fruit and steamed veg, I eat loads of steamed salmon, little or no pasta, occasionally rice, I also like stir fried vegetables.
My "treats" consist of Highlights hot chocolate drinks, and Ice Lollies...not the most varied of diets I agree, but I enjoy it. Could that also be the problem? The lack of variety?
Nutrition Data for Steamed Salmon: Per 150 gram serving - 393 cals, 24g fat, 9g carbs, 35g protein
You'd feel more satisfied and better nourished with more variety. But it's not nearly as much of a problem as the amount of calories you're not aware of eating. For instance: If you eat one serving of steamed salmon a day, 150 grams or 1/3 of a pound, plus one serving of couscous (1 cup), that's 563 calories. If you eat double that amount of couscous and salmon, that's 1126 calories. If you eat a pound of salmon a day, that's 1519 calories. Add to that the calories from whatever else you eat, including treats, and you can see how the calories quickly accumulate.
Also, a pound of salmon has 105 grams of protein. If you add that to all the protein you get from other sources, you're getting far more protein than you need, and unused protein is converted to fat.
Cut the amount of salmon to a single serving per day of 150 grams, or 1/3 of a pound, better yet just have it two or three times a week. Eat other sources of protein, like beans and lentils, which are vegetarian, low in fat and calories, and a small amount satisfies. Eat other grains, especially whole grains, besides couscous and rice, and only have treats rarely.
Ideal Proportions: If you divide your plate visually into six, 3/6 should be veggies, 2/6 grain, and 1/6 protein. It should all fit into your cupped hands - and that's your biggest meal. In that case, I'm sure you'll agree that every calorie should count, nutritionally.
If you're serious about losing weight, you might want to sign up with Anne Collins weight loss site. The cost is very reasonable. Or get a diet plan through your doctor or a dietitian. At least get a calorie counter, or find a website that counts your calories for you. Here's a few freebies:The Calorie Counter Calorie Count Nutrition Data
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian