"To get more satisfaction out of food, the idea is to fill up on foods that give you a lot of volume for relatively few calories," says Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, chief scientist at Weight Watchers International. For example, 60 ml (1/4 cup) of raisins and 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) of grapes have the same number of calories, but with the grapes, you obviously get to eat much more, and you're apt to feel more satisfied when you're through.
Besides fresh fruit like grapes, other satiating high-volume foods include complex carbohydrates that are high in water, air and/or fibre, such as air-popped popcorn, vegetables and whole-grains like brown rice, says Miller-Kovach. But lean protein-rich foods, such as a skinless chicken breast, low-fat or nonfat yogurt or skim milk can also contribute to satiety, she adds. That's why, for maximum satisfaction, you might want to make sure your meals also contain some lean protein, says Miller-Kovach.
Super-satisfying temptation tamers
Other mealtime tricks for pumping up the volume in your food to maximize your satisfaction on fewer calories:
Start meals with a first course of broth-based soup, vegetable juice or a salad with reduced fat or low-fat dressing. One caveat: "Make sure that first course isn't more than 100 calories," says Barbara Rolls, PhD, Guthrie Chair of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Otherwise, you could end up eating too many calories at that particular meal.
According to Rolls' research, subjects who began their meals with a high-volume, low-calorie starter like soup or salad ate 100 fewer calories over the course of the entire meal compared to those who started their meal with the entrée.
- Eat more vegetables, such as leafy greens, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, summer squash and onions. In fact, stash them in stews, soups, pasta sauces, pizza and meat loaf. They're high-volume, high-satisfaction, low-calorie superstars because they're loaded with water and fibre, Rolls says, two top filler-uppers.
- Limit very dry foods, such as pretzels, crackers and chips. Dry foods lack water and thus are low in volume. "Dry foods pack a lot of calories into a small portion and are easy to overeat," says Rolls.
You can also make it second nature to gravitate toward healthy foods that fill you up. When you follow the Weight Watchers food plan, we can help you learn to naturally seek out these foods, while still being able to enjoy the treats you love.
Eventually you might find yourself gravitating towards these more satisfying, less caloric choices, making your healthy eating habits a way of life, not a chore.