How to Enjoy Pizza and Still Lose Weight
By Jan Claussen, MS RD LDN
“Did I really just devour that whole slice by myself?” Sound familiar? Have you ever eaten a ridiculously large slice of pizza and ended up feeling guilty to the point of wanting to starve yourself for days to make up for it? Well, most people have a story like this when it comes to pizza. Maybe even a few. That’s because pizza is one of those foods that people love to eat. But, it’s definitely not the obvious choice for anyone who’s trying to lose weight. However, it could be. All you’ve got to do is keep it simple. Here’s how:
Start with a healthier crust. Ready-made pizza crusts are often full of carbohydrates and calories and can definitely put a strain on your waistline. Instead, try making your own crust or use English muffins or pita bread. If making your own crust suits you, be sure to make your crust thin, so you don’t end up adding extra carbohydrates and calories to the meal. For added benefit, you can bump up the fiber and B vitamin content by switching half of the flour to whole wheat flour. If you use English muffins or pita bread, pick the whole wheat or the reduced-calorie version. Both English muffins and pita bread allow for portion control since the size is already decided for you. You can even find crust made of cauliflower. Tons of variety in these products allows for even picky eaters to be happy with the end result.
Build a better base. Bases such as tomato sauce, olive oil, pesto, and vinegar/herb blends help to bring the pizza together as a whole. Tomato sauce is one of the hallmark ingredients of pizza. It can be comprised of only a few ingredients to create a more basic option, a few additional ingredients for a bolder version, or you can do your own thing and make it your signature recipe. Olive oil, basil, and balsamic vinegar can complement even the most basic of ingredients. The base can bring the tastes of a multitude of toppings together and can determine the style of pizza you’re making.
Be smart with toppings. Toppings can make the world of difference on a pizza. Each topping option needs to be chosen with care. Fatty meat toppings such as sausage, pepperoni, and bacon quickly increase fat and calories while vegetable toppings such as tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms add great tastes and valuable nutrients. Last but not least, let’s talk about cheese. Cheese is of course included in the topping selections, just be sure to use part skim cheese whenever possible to further decrease the fat content of your pizza.