We are at the midpoint of Healthy Weight Week (January 15-19). These observations are truly opportunities to turn your focus to one aspect of your well-being and gather information about how to make smart decisions for your health. When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, Kathy Wehrle, Community Outreach Registered Dietitian Nutrition, has some wonderful suggestions for a different approach to mealtime.
Would you rather have 1/4 cup of raisins or 2 cups of cherries? Although both foods have the same amount of calories and nutrition, cherries are larger and more filling because they contain more water and fiber. This is the idea behind volumetric eating. Choosing foods that have a higher water content will help you feel fuller longer – without consuming more calories.
Volumetrics introduces the idea of energy density to help us choose the best foods to eat. Energy density is the number of calories a food has, per volume. Foods with a high water content generally have a low energy density. "It's really a beautiful, natural way to approach weight control," Kathy said. "It doesn't feel like a diet."
Mindful calorie consumption for health and well-being.
Smart eating is really about slowing down and being in the moment more so than tracking calories or creating restrictions. For more on incorporating mindfulness into mealtime, check out this helpful video.
Small changes, big results.
Making small changes to your daily eating habits can quickly offer big results. Here are some easy tricks to incorporate volumetric eating into your routine:
- Drink up. Research shows that drinking water before you eat can help you eat less and feel fuller longer. It’s common to confuse thirst with hunger, so be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re starting to feel hungry, drink a glass of water then wait a few minutes. Often, water will satisfy that “hungry” feeling.
- Practice portion control. When preparing a meal at home, make sure to set aside “extra” food for leftover meals later in the week. Or, when dining out, choose a smaller portion, or ask your waiter or waitress to package half your meal before it’s served.
- Add vegetables. Making simple recipe modifications can increase your vegetable, and decrease your calorie, consumption. For example, spinach can be used as a sandwich-topper, or it can add nutrients to casseroles and stir-fries. Try to double the non-starchy vegetable amounts in some of your favorite recipes or use these veggies as a filler to bulk up a meal in your rotation.
- Start the meal off right. Drink a nice, large glass of water or eat a brothy soup with non-starchy vegetables before eating your meal. This will help you begin to feel fuller sooner.
- Limit mealtime distractions. For example, people who play computer games at lunch, or watch television at dinner, tend to overeat because they’re not paying attention to their portion sizes. So, turn off the computer games and television, and put your smartphone away, while you eat. This will help you focus on the meal. You’ll eat more slowly – and just enough to satisfy your hunger.
- Stop before you’re stuffed. By the time your brain realizes you’re full, you’re often too full. To avoid overeating, stop eating when you feel satisfied. If there’s still food on your plate, save it and package it to be used as leftovers.
Fruits and vegetables to fill you up.
The best fruits for volumetric eating include berries, plums, whole citrus fruits, apples and kiwi.
The best vegetables are cabbage, green leafy lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers and mushrooms.