In times where 66 percent of adults are now overweight or obese, some people have managed to stay at a healthy weight. How do they do it? One trick is to learn which foods will fill you up without a lot of calories. If most of your food choices pack lots of calories into each bite — we call these foods “calorie-dense” — you will overeat and get too many calories. Calorie-dense foods — for example, chips, cookies, pretzels and crackers — tend to be low in moisture and some also may be high in fat. So how can you eat more and weigh less? It’s simple. Just follow these guidelines.
Choose soups and vegetables. Surprisingly, the component of foods that has the biggest impact on how much food you eat is water. Water adds weight and volume to foods without adding calories — it lowers the calorie density of foods. Water-rich foods include vegetables, fruits and soups. Eating these foods help people eat fewer calories while still eating a satisfying amount of food. The best ways to include low-calorie-dense foods in a meal are to eat a 100-calorie bowl of broth-based soup or a green salad at the start of a meal which will take the edge off your hunger. Even with the extra course of soup or salad, you are likely to eat fewer total calories during the meal.
Another effective approach is to add vegetables to your favorite mixed dishes — bulk up chili, stews and even macaroni and cheese with water-rich veggies like broccoli, carrots or tomatoes. You will more than likely eat the same portion of food as usual and but you will be satisfied with fewer calories because some of the space in the bowl is taken up by low-calorie-dense vegetables. People tend to dish out the same portion, so why not make it lower in calories? What's more, this type of eating pattern supplies more of the important nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C, B-6 and folate. It is the ultimate nutrient value-meal with more of the good stuff for less of the bad.
To stay lean in this expanding world you don’t have to cut out whole categories of foods or eat tiny portions. These tips can help you choose a healthy balance of foods to lower the calorie density of your diet:
• Sneak vegetables and fruit into your diet throughout the day: top cereal with berries, snack on an apple or carrot sticks, tuck your favorite veggies into sandwiches or casseroles, increase the proportion of veggies on your plate.
• Cut the fat in foods without sacrificing taste by using a smaller amount of highly flavored vegetable oils, switching to lower fat milk and buying lean cuts of meat. Fat packs more than twice as many calories into an ounce of food as carbohydrates or protein.
• Keep your pantry well-stocked with a variety of your favorite low-calorie-dense foods so these are what you eat when you have the munchies.
• Focus on what you can eat, rather than what you can’t. Find a low-calorie-dense eating pattern that you enjoy so you will stick to it.
• Find ways to tweak your own diet using foods that you like and find appealing.