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MORE FOR YOUR MOUTHFUL

It has often been suggested that one should consume a tall glass of water whenever the urge to eat arises, and right before a meal. The body can mistake thirst for hunger, they say, and drinking water before you eat assures that you will consume less food.

Well, yes and no.

If you eat when you are thirsty, then you'll take in more calories than you would by simply quenching your thirst with, say, water, which is calorie free, so drinking water before eating is good advice. Besides, it helps to keep you hydrated.

But if you think that water fills your stomach and helps to make you feel fuller faster, guess again. Water is absorbed very rapidly by the stomach. We're talking a matter of minutes, likely before you've even had time to take you first mouthful of lunch or dinner.

Water AND fiber, however, will remain in your stomach for thirty minutes or more and a diet which includes ample amounts of foods containing both water and fiber - and these foods are without exception low-calorie foods - can certainly assist weight -loss efforts. It helps that these foods are highly nutritious, too.

Which foods are we talking about? Let's focus on the vegetable fruits.

Vegetable fruits are called fruits because they contain seeds, but they are also called vegetables because unlike traditional fruits like strawberries and mangos they are not sweet (and so do not contain sugar). The lack of sugar is the reason they are so low in calories.

Here are our three favorite vegetable fruits. They are low in calories, high in water and fiber, and high in vitamins and minerals, and are especially useful if you are pressed for time, as they can be enjoyed raw.

Bell Pepper

Per 100 calories, peppers offer you nearly 1000% of the daily requirement for vitamin C. That's not a typo. 1000% is 10 times the minimum amount recommended for this important antioxidant vitamin. Peppers also provide over 250% of the requirement for vitamin A, not to mention 10g of fiber. And each pepper you eat is like drinking a cup of water.

Tomato

Tomatoes are also high in vitamin A and vitamin C, and are very tasty sliced and enjoyed on their own.

Cucumber

Cucumbers are 95% water, and a pound of them provides a mere 50 calories, making them a very low calorie food. Cucumbers freshen the breath and cool you on a summer day. They are also a good source of phosphorous, copper, manganese, and magnesium. In winter, try a little cayenne pepper on them, to keep your blood warm.

Take This to Your Next Meal

Remember, the human body requires at least 5 pounds of food each day to satisfy its bulk needs. Dinner should be the largest meal of the day, at which you should consume roughly 3 pounds of food. Too often we skip meals; then, to satisfy our hunger, we reach for calorie-dense foods of inferior nutrition (high fat animal products and refined grains, especially). This is a recipe for poor health and excess weight.

So, at your next evening feast, start by eating a pound of one of the above foods. They will partially fill your stomach, assuring your do not overeat, while going far to meet your daily needs of water, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

One pound is roughly 2 large bell peppers, 3 large tomatoes, OR two 6-inch cucumbers. Simply slice, season with your favorite spices or sea salt, add a spritz of lemon, and enjoy.

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