While the delicious food and goodies at barbeques and cookouts this Labor Day holiday may initially be pleasing to the taste buds, those “post-holiday pounds” may start to pile on later. But experts claim there is a happy medium: a way to enjoy the food in moderation without expanding your waistline.

Many experts have hailed fish and fish oil as the secret to short-circuiting the desire to eat. The release of leptin, a hormone found in the brain that controls eating behavior, is believed by some to increase when eating fish or fish oil. In addition, Omega-3, found in fish products and in pill form, can curb appetite and reduce the body’s fat burning process.

But while these hormones may help some individuals, Margaret Furtado, clinical dietician specialist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, said the method is not designed for everyone.

“Omega-3 fish oils, commonly available over-the-counter in capsules, may help some people curb their appetites, particularly if their diet is low in this healthy oil,” Furtado said. “Therefore, it’s possible that taking fish oils could decrease cravings if it’s satisfying the body’s need for these healthy fats.  However, there still needs to be more research, and not everyone should be taking these supplements, especially if you’re on aspirin and/or blood thinners.” 

Furtado added that an individual should check with their doctor first to see if fish oil might help lower their heart disease risk and fill gaps in their diet.

While fish oil may not be the ideal solution to curb an appetite, Furtado said there are other options.

“Make sure you’re getting enough fluids…not alcohol, soda, caffeinated coffee or juices, but water and/or non caloric beverages that don’t have caffeine, such as Crystal Light, Fruit20, Minute Maid Light and Propel,” she said. “Most people don’t get enough liquids.”

Furtado also suggested eating a healthy snack–something high in nutrition and low in fat–prior to the cookout to curb hunger during the main event, and strategically “budgeting” your plate.

“Half of your plate should be vegetables and salad, one quarter of your plate should be protein (lean meat, chicken fish or tofu), and another quarter of your plate should be a starch (small potato or handful of rice),” Furtado said. “Start eating the veggies first to help fill you up. And avoid seconds right away, since it takes the brain a while to get the signal of fullness. Instead, wait at least 20 minutes and decide if you still want the seconds.”

She also suggested getting some physical exercise at the cookout, such as tossing a Frisbee or walking. “It can help offset the extra calories you might have indulged in, and you’ll feel better too!”

Ultimately, Furtado suggests seeking professional help to lose weight and improve eating habits.

“A registered dietician is highly recommended if you’re healthy and you’re looking to improve your diet and/or waistline,” she said.


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor