Health & Food

Tips for Weight Management; Volumetrics and My Food Label Guide “Phone App”

That’s a lot of broccoli.

But, even with the tiny bit of oil that was used to cook the broccoli, that large bowl of broccoli still contains fewer calories than 2 T (one serving) of this peanut butter.peanut butter 4

And yet, I feel much more full after eating that broccoli!

Two things prompted me to write this post on volumetrics. First was the article in March’s Nutrition Action Healthletter. The second thing that prompted me to write this post was viewing the documentary “Forks Over Knives”. I was so excited to see this movie, yet I was extremely disappointed with the one-sided views portrayed throughout (I was going to write a post about it, but I don’t even want to). The one good part of the movie was when they discussed how certain foods, like fruits and vegetables, expand our stomachs and send signals of satiety to our brain, and how the same number of calories worth of a burger or even olive oil (aka more energy-dense, less nutrient-dense, and less voluminous kinds of foods) will not expand the stomach as much, and will not send those same fullness signals to the brain.Tips for Weight Management 1

Source: iStockPhoto

  • definition of nutrient density: lots of nutrients for few calories, and typically more volume of food
  • definition of energy density: lots of calories (aka energy), little nutrients and a little volume of food

Last Monday I posted my own “Fad Diet” (aka my own personal diet that I’m trying to promote and make a ton of money off of. If you eat like me, you can be skinny too! Haha, jk, such a joke, I love making fun of fad diets). Anyway, something that I didn’t mention in that post is that I choose foods based on the concept of volumetrics. Like most people, I love food, and I love to eat, but I often fall into the trap of eating despite not really being hungry. I could sit here and lie to you and tell you that I eat intuitively 100% of the time, but that’s not true (although I’d like to think I eat intuitively about 85% of the time!). Where am I going with this? Like most Americans I like to eat food, and I find that I enjoy higher volume foods because they take me longer to eat and they fill me up more because of their higher volume (even if they don’t always contain more fiber, fat, and protein —- all components of food that promote fullness and satiety).

Another benefit of higher volume eating, despite the fact that you get to eat more (eat more volume, but not necessarily more calories, that’s the key here) is that those higher volume foods tend to be healthier (not always though, such as my rice cakes that I love to eat. They don’t really provide any health benefits, but they are high volume, for few calories!).

For this very reason, I like to add vegetables and/or fruits (or other foods that are high volume, high nutrient density, low energy density) to my foods……

I layer my parfaits with pumpkin and frozen berries.frozen berries

I add a thick layer of steamed veggies on top of a thin layer of pasta.steamed veggies

I rarely use my juicer because this is what happens to the fiber/roughage of my fruits and veggies (aka; the components that add volume and nutrient density!)Tips for Weight Management 2

And if I do juice, I use this ruffage in other recipes (such as smoothies).

I add extra vegetables to my frozen meals, such as this frozen meal from Macaroni Grill. See how green it is? I added an entire bag of frozen kale in order to expand the volume, and increase the nutrient density of the meal.Tips for Weight Management 3

Here are some higher volume, higher nutrient-dense, lower energy-dense foods;
(Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter. )

  • Celery and cucumber
  • Cooked asparagus
  • Salad greens
  • Salsa
  • Strawberries
  • Vegetable soup
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Light or low-fat yogurt (unsweetened)
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Lentil soup
  • Cottage cheese
  • Grapes
  • Tofu, firm
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas
  • Bran flakes
  • Brown rice
  • Shrimp, steamed
  • Turkey breast
  • Light tuna

Here are some lower volume, lower nutrient-dense, higher-energy dense foods (plus my suggestions for swaps);
(Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter.)

  • Bread
  • French fries —–(choose baked versions!)
  • Light mayo
  • Raisins —–(choose grapes!)
  • Hard pretzels
  • Trail mix —– (skip the added sugars!)
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Ranch dressing —— (Use oil and vinegar!)
  • Bacon
  • Potato chips (choose air-popped popcorn!)
  • Oil —–(Just cut down, and remember a little goes a very long way)

Before I finish this post, don’t forget to check out my label book/Smartphone app, which is finally finished and on sale! You can read all the details here. Let me know if you have any questions.Food LabelQUESTION: What’s your favorite way to add volume and nutrient density to your meals? Do you have any swaps that you like to use (for example; instead of eating 100 calories worth of raisins, eat 100 calories worth of water-packed grapes)?

HAPPY MONDAY!! Yes, it can be a happy Monday

About author


Hi, my name is Rebecca Houston and I am a writer. I write about health, healthy food and daily meal plan for various websites.
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