How to Eat Pasta Without Guilt
Pasta is popular for a reason: It's versatile, inexpensive, great-tasting, and comforting. Unfortunately, the comfort we get from pasta comes from its high carbohydrate count.
As any dieter will tell you, carbohydrates, especially those that come from white flour products like pasta, aren't exactly diet-friendly carbs.
They tend to have a high calorie content, and can raise blood sugar levels and cause bloating.
When blood sugar goes up too high, the body produces insulin, which drives the glucose back down. This causes hunger, even shortly after a carb-laden meal. The bars also cause water retention, leading to uncomfortable bloating.
But pasta-based recipes are great for feeding a family on a budget, and pasta is just plain good. How can you take advantage of its benefits without the guilt of making weight loss difficult?
There are several tactics you can choose. Here are some painless ways to eat pasta without sacrificing your waistline.
Add Fat and Protein
Yes, actually eating some heart-healthy fat and lean protein with your pasta is healthier than eating the pasta by itself. That's because our bodies digest pasta very quickly, leading to a glucose spike and subsequent crash.
But when you mix fat and protein with the carbs, your body will take much longer to digest the food. This helps keep your glucose level stable, and keeps you satisfied for a longer period of time.
You can add fat and protein by using lean sirloin, chopped mushrooms, boiled shrimp, or ground turkey in your pasta sauce. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil onto the entree, and you've got a guilt-free recipe that will keep you happy and healthy.
Go for Whole Grain
Whole grain pastas are growing in popularity. Their texture is slightly denser than that of white pastas, but whole grain pastas don't cause blood sugar levels to rise as far or as fast.
Their density also makes them more satisfying than delicate white pasta. Whole grain pastas contain more fiber, and take significantly longer for your body to break down.
Look for whole grain angel hair noodles instead of spaghetti. The thin strands will cook very quickly, and they won't be as "gummy" as thicker whole grain noodles. Top a cup of whole grain angel hair pasta with chopped basil and portobellos, and drizzle with lemon-flavored olive oil for a light, summery meal.
Control Portion Size
Most foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet if you use them in moderation. Pasta is no different. However, many of us can't identify what a serving of pasta looks like.
One half-cup of cooked pasta equals one serving. The various shapes and sizes of the pasta noodles can make measurement difficult, but a rough guide is to serve yourself about as much pasta as you could fit in the cupped palm of your hand.
An ice cream scoop doles out about half a cup, so you could use that to aid in visualization, too.
Unfortunately, half a cup isn't very much pasta. Restaurants are notorious for dishing up several portions of food in a single entree.
If you serve pasta at home, make up a smaller batch and serve it as a side dish instead of the main meal. When eating out, box up most of your pasta before you dig in. Take it home and eat it over the course of 2 to 3 meals.
Make Pasta a Special Treat
For some, it might not be feasible to eat pasta on a regular basis. Some of us have trouble controlling our appetites once we start eating pasta. Diabetics and insulin-resistant individuals can have strong cravings for carb-laden foods. Pasta is also a common trigger food for binge eaters.
Instead of engaging in a daily diet struggle, save pasta for special occasions so that you can indulge without guilt or worry.