Pasta is one of those beloved dishes that an often time gets put on the back burner when someone is dieting. Sorry, pun intended. If you want to be successful with weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you cannot give up the foods you love. You just have to be strategic in how you incorporate them. That’s why my 4-week meal plan has everything from tacos to pasta. You’ll lose weight and still be happy with your food.
Really though, think about the fad diets perpetuating through our society these days- Low carbohydrate, no carbohydrate! I am pretty sure carbs are my soulmate; if someone told me I could never have pasta again I would not be a good person.
If you’ve ever found yourself saying a “diet” worked for you, but then you fell off the wagon… it probably wasn’t a good fit for a sustainable, lifestyle change. Yo-yo weight loss and weight gain are actually correlated with poor health in the long run.
I’ve worked with many folks on weight loss and blood sugar control. The strategy for incorporating meals like pasta should be as follows.
Here are 5 ways to build out a healthy pasta meal.
1. Choose 100% whole grains and other nutrient-dense noodles
High fiber, high protein noodles you may have or have not tried yet:
- Banza Pasta: Chickpea Pasta
- Edamame Pasta
- Black Bean Pasta
- Lentil Pasta
- Veggie Pasta– Make sure it’s an actual 100% whole grain w/ concentrated veggie in there. Some products are marketed as veggie pasta but the first ingredient is potatoes. Go for volume with Spiralized noodles.
- Spiralized Vegetables- I love Spiralized zucchini or cucumber chilled & dressed up Greek Style (feta, Kalamata olives, & marinated chicken).
If you prefer white pasta- make a deal with me in the comments below that you will meet your fiber needs in other ways! 100% Whole grains are the most bang for your buck. 25-35g Fiber per day is a general recommendation. Barilla Plus is a good choice close to the traditional view of spaghetti noodles.
2. Incorporate a veggie!
Chopped frozen spinach or simple side salads are a way to veg up at mealtime. If my husband were cooking a pasta dish for the night (before we started dating)- it would have a noodle + meat + cheese bread and that’s about it. The daily recommendation for vegetable intake is 3 servings per day, meaning, 1 cup raw or cooked veggies or 2 cups of a dark leafy green.
3. Food Portions Matter:
Your fist is about 1 cup serving of noodles. That translates into roughly 30 grams of carbohydrate.
4. Cups, Bowls, & Plate Size Matters:
The larger the dish, the more likely you’ll eat more according to Mindless Eating expert Dr. Wansink from Cornell University. Also- serve “family-style” away from the actual table to promote mindful second helpings.
5. The Sauce matters…
Read the label to make sure there isn’t a ton of added sugar in there. If you’re wondering how to figure out where the sugar is coming from (natural VS added) read the ingredient list to see if sugar is in the first few listed.
In the comments below, tell me about your favorite healthy AND SIMPLE pasta dish. Also- check out my 4-week meal plan. It is an AMAZING and well-thought-out approach to learning which meal prep styles are the best fit for you (and/or your family)!