When it comes to weight loss, one of the biggest challenges is managing our appetites. We eat for so many reasons, in addition to hunger, that it can be really tough to get a sense of fullness and contentment while trimming calories (which is a fact of life when it comes to losing weight). So, how about a little refresher on how to eat more food while still saving calories?
It’s all about fiber, water and air.
When these are in the foods you choose, you'll get automatic "calorie dilution." Since fiber, water and air have no digestible calories, you'll get a "bulking up" of the food volume you eat, without adding any extra calories. Here are some of my favorites.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
These are double-duty foods, and contain lots of fiber and water. Most diet plans have raw vegetables on the "unlimited" list. (The only exclusions are the low-water, starchy veggies like corn, peas and potatoes.) Salad greens and colorful fruits and vegetables carry water and fiber to give you a boost in stomach distension (filling up!) — which is translated into a greater sense of fullness for you. Shop local and seasonal for best prices, and consider frozen veggies (skip the sauces) for best savings.
Aim for fiber-rich products to give you greater fullness on a smaller serving. That's the key to whole grains and weight control. Choose 100% percent whole wheat in small sizes — mini pitas, thinly sliced bread. And don't forget about brown rice, quinoa and couscous. Think high-fiber, low-sugar cereals with skim milk, or plain, as a snack. If you won't consider whole grains, look for white flour products with extra fiber added.
The key calorie dilution here comes from air. The pop in popcorn "fluffs" up the product, and provides volume without extra calories. So, you get a lot more to eat compared with regular corn. Look for 100-calorie air-popped microwaveable bags, and skip the flavored varieties that add lots of extra calories and fat.
Beverages: Non-alcoholic and alcoholic
Liquids are a great filler, but adding air (carbonation) that gives you some fizz will slow down your rate of drinking, and also give added volume without calories. For non-alcoholic choices, think seltzer, club soda or diet soda. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, try sparkling wine, or a wine spritzer (wine and seltzer). The fizz of a light beer makes you drink it slower — and is more "filling" for most people, so you can limit your consumption with less trouble.
Whether hot or cold, soup is a great alternate to start a meal, to help take the edge off your hunger. This occurs when you get a small sense of fullness from the fiber and water of soups, which allows you better control when eating your main dish. You're just not as hungry when the main dish comes, since you get a satiety boost from the soup.
Soups are a great alternate to salads — which many people also use as an appetizer (that can get a bit tiring). Stick with chunky vegetable soups, or gazpacho, and limit cream- and noodle-based soups. Create (or purchase) your own "cream" soups using vegetable purees; try Imagine brand, in a box, for a ready-to-eat bowl.