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Saving Calories for Dinner, and Miracle Foods!
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Saving Calories for Dinner, and Miracle Foods!

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10.03.12
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Hey Hungry Girl,

Dinner is my favorite meal, and it's the time of day that I consume the most calories -- especially since I tend to snack before and after the meal. Is it bad if I skip breakfast and eat a very small lunch in order to save most of my calories for dinnertime?

Dinner Dilemma

Hi Dinner Dilemma,

So glad you asked. Many people assume that skipping meals is a smart way to keep their daily calorie intake in check -- especially if they have a big dinner planned. But it often has the opposite effect. If you don't consume enough calories during the day, you're gonna get hungry. REALLY hungry. And you'll be way more likely to make bad food decisions and take in even more calories overall than if you'd just eaten sensible meals earlier in the day. In fact, nighttime snacking is often a result of your body craving sustenance after a day when you didn't eat enough. The good news is that you can still make dinner the most substantial meal of the day. Just have smaller daytime meals, not tiny or nonexistent ones.

A lot of people skip breakfast because they don't have time to make something or aren't hungry first thing in the a.m. If you're time crunched, keep fast morning options on hand, like instant oatmeal, fruit, and fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt. Click here for a roundup of quickie breakfast recipes. If you aren't hungry bright and early, pack a bar with protein and fiber for your morning commute. Or store breakfast items at work for a midmorning meal.

As for lunch, even if you're super busy, it's important to stop and eat something. It doesn't have to be a huge meal; just one that's filling. I like to have pouched tuna over a salad, or some chopped grilled chicken tossed with steamed broccoli slaw and a little tomato sauce. Quick, easy, light, and delicious.

As for that dinnertime snacking, it's important to always have smart snacks in the house. Keep cut veggies and salsa in the fridge, so you'll have something sensible to munch on before dinner. And start your meal with a salad or broth-based soup... You're likely to take in fewer calories at dinner if you do. If you have a sweet tooth after dinner, 60-calorie pudding snacks are great, and so are VitaTops and Mini VitaCakes. I also like sweet fruit, like cherries or some Fuji apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon.

Hope I've convinced you to show breakfast and lunch some love. Now no more meal skipping!

Hi Lisa,

The last time I sent fan mail was in the second grade, but I just HAD to tell you how much you rock! You introduced me to tofu shirataki noodles, which have been a total lifesaver. I can't believe I can eat a big bowl of noodles for so few calories. So I've gotta know... What are some other miracle foods I should try?

Super Hungry Fan

Hi Super Hungry Fan,

Thanks for the love! Those noodles are pretty amazing, aren't they? My other go-to pasta swaps, spaghetti squash and broccoli cole slaw, also give you ridiculously large serving sizes for very few calories -- check 'em out if you haven't already! As for other "miracle foods"? Here are some of my top picks...

Powdered peanut butter - This may very well be the product find of the century (or at least in the TOP ATE). It's made from defatted peanuts, and a 2-tbsp. serving has only about 45 calories and 1.5g fat!!! You just add a little water and stir, and you've got super-low-cal, crazy-low-fat peanut butter. Click here for more on this stuff. It's worth ordering online!

Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze - Here's another miraculous item in the HG arsenal. An entire cup has just 40 calories and 3.5g fat, and it's SO incredibly creamy and delicious. Use it to make a GIANT bowl of oatmeal with a completely reasonable calorie count. It's also great over cold cereal, in frozen drinks... pretty much anywhere you'd use regular milk. (Except instant pudding; it doesn't work there!)

Butternut squash - I consider b-nut squash a miracle food because it makes a SPECTACULAR swap for potatoes in French fry recipes. You can enjoy a nice large serving for way fewer carby calories than traditional potato fries, not to mention a teeny-tiny fraction of the fat (thanks to baking 'em). Turnips also work fantastically well as potato swaps.

Canned pumpkin - Use it instead of eggs and oil in baked goods to save TONS of calories and fat grams. Don't worry -- your treats won't taste very pumpkin-y; they'll just be moist and delicious! It works in brownies, cakes, muffins, and more. Make sure to get pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling! The canned filling has tons of added sugar.

There you have it... Some of my favorite miracle foods. Happy chewing!

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Today, October 3rd, is National Caramel Custard Day. Celebrate by spiking a container of fat-free Greek yogurt with a little cinnamon, sweetener, and Torani Sugar Free Caramel Syrup... A tasty swap for caramel custard!

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*The PointsPlus® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.

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