Feeling Deprived Is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

I was at a wedding yesterday, which was lovely, and a friend of mine mentioned that she was enjoying my posts here, and that she really needed to work on weight management, but was finding it challenging to eat smaller portions. Everybody says eat smaller portions if you want to manage your weight, right?

Not me. I’m what’s called a “volume eater.” I need to fill my stomach to feel satisfied. Not because I am a glutton but because that is one of the grab-bag of crappy hands I was dealt biologically. Some people can feel satisfied on three bites of very rich food, I cannot. Regardless of how delicious my food may be, if portion control is my weight management strategy, in the end, I will fail. If I eat a tiny portion of delicious food, no matter how delicious, I’m still hungry. And the compelling thing about feeling hungry is that if I’m hungry I will find something else to eat, and it probably won’t be very supportive to my weight management goals. Say all you want about humans being highly evolved, where hunger is concerned we’re all driven by the lizard brain.

Therefore I cannot live my life on tiny portions – spending my days feeling hungry and deprived won’t work because I’m in this for the long haul and the long haul is not going to last long if I’m miserable. So it’s a good thing I have another option. And that is to choose foods with a low caloric density and eat a lot of them. Low caloric density means foods that have a high water content and a low fat content. That means vegetables, fruits, lean meats, soup.

I have about a hundred different ways* to prepare veggies, because I can basically eat an unlimited volume of them. A cup of veggies has about 50 calories. I can eat 5 cups of veggies for fewer calories than a tall mocha at Starbucks. And I can’t even eat 5 cups of veggies at a time – that’s a lot of food! A cup of fruit has about 100 calories. I can have 3 pieces of fruit for less than that same tall mocha.** And I will feel a whole lot more satisfied if I do.

So that’s it, there’s one of my tricks. I eat until I’m full, but I choose foods I can eat a lot of. If you’re interested in further reading on caloric density and seeing some of the really interesting comparisons of various high- and low-caloric density foods and their values, I highly recommend the book Picture Perfect Weight Loss, the visuals are quite compelling.

*Roasted, sautéed, chopped in salads, broiled, raw, baked, made into soup, spitted and grilled. Ok, that’s slightly less than a hundred, but I add flavor using spices, herbs, vinegars, soy sauce, hot sauce, salsa – there are dozens of ways to add flavor without adding calories.

**Not to knock Starbucks, because there are definitely reasonable options to be found there – if I’ve got a spare 125 calories knocking around in my budget I’m a sucker for a non-fat latte.


11 Responses to “Feeling Deprived Is No Way to Go Through Life, Son”

  1. Trystan Says:

    Hmm… from time to time & why I fell off the weight watchers maintenance mode (which is pretty similar to what you’ve described doing) when I’d been at it for about 2 years after a year of doing it hardcore to lose the weight. The sense of deprivation wasn’t from volume, but more from variety, sensation, even freedom. I was bored of making the “healthy food choices” & planning what I ate all the time instead of just having french fries or pizza or just being lazy & taking the easy way out! Not to mention I got extremely bored of every exercise I tried.

    I hope you’ll write about boredom in its many guises in the future. I’d love to know how you’ve managed to fight it so long!

    • Laina Says:

      I think that’s an excellent topic, I’m adding it to my list of upcoming topics, because yes, boredom is a killer! I’m not sure I’m the best to tackle it, because I seem to have an unwavering fondness for routine, but I’m here, and I’m willing to try! Thanks!

  2. Trystan Says:

    Meant to say “from time to time I wonder about why I fell off the weight watchers maintenance mode…”

    Sorry that made no sense to start with!

  3. Christine Says:

    Hello, Laina! I love what you are doing here and find it very inspiring. Keep up the good work!

    I’d never heard the term “volume eater” before but that describes me and my hubby to a tee: we are not sated until our bellies feel full although not necessarily to bursting. We have frequently wondered how folks can be satisfied with haute cuisine sized meals (ok, they are actually “tasting plates”) and still not feel the need to eat more. We both enjoy cooking, grilling, and baking so we have been reluctant to say good-bye any possibility of whipping up something wonderful, albeit fattening, in our kitchen. We have had difficulty reconciling our desire to be at a healthy weight with our love of tasty, interesting, and unfortunately, very frequently calorie-laden foods.

    However, you have provided a concrete example of how it can be done: stuff ourselves on low cal/high volume foods and *then* go out for the exquisite nibble plates, sharing it between ourselves whenever possible. This is the advice every woman’s magazine trots out during the holiday party season and it never clicked before but I get it now!

    I have struggled with my weight since childhood and I can quote nutritional facts chapter and verse but information and knowledge are not the same as motivation. If they were, I certainly would have lost these extra 130 pounds after my cardiac by-pass four years ago. My biggest problem has been not having concrete tools (like eating the lo-cal/hi-vol foundation meal before the “tasty” meal) that would enable me to continue to enjoy the dining experience while losing (and maintaining) a healthy weight. You are on to something and I look forward to hearing what else you have to share.

    • Laina Says:

      Thank you! I too have struggled with my weight from childhood, so I know where you are coming from. I appreciate your feedback and hope I can continue to help you find new ways to manage a healthy weight!

  4. Donna Says:

    Possibly a subject for another post … regarding caloric density and fruits and veggies … are all fruits and veggies created equal in regard to your weight loss/maintenance regime? Are high starch veg like potatoes counted differently? High fat fruit like avacados or olives? High sugar fruit like dates or dried fruit?

    • Laina Says:

      Excellent suggestion, thank you. I’m adding to my list because to break it all down will be long enough to merit another post. There are definitely some outliers on the defaults and you’ve nailed them. 🙂

  5. Hunger Is Real | Keeping Off 200 Pounds Says:

    […] foods with Low Caloric Density – foods that provide low calories per bite. Here’s my article on that from a couple years […]

  6. Lee Says:

    Wow! This just shows how completely different we all are.

    You see, I *thought* this would work for me, this kind of strategy, and I end up binging anyway.

    What *does* work (so far anyway) is keto. I’m feeling full on very little food, in terms of bulk. And not even needing the bulky veggies and big platters of food. It’s weird, and I wouldn’t have thought it would work for me, but it does.

    I haven’t lost heaps of weight yet, but the trend is downwards, and that’s good 🙂

    I think there’s something to be said for finding foods that are satisfying. I get satisfied on a small amount of bacon, but any amount of bread won’t fill me up…I just want more, more MORE!

    I don’t understand our bodies, but you’re absolutely right that it’s all about lizard brains!

    • Laina Says:

      Well, this used to work for me, up until about 4 years ago. As you can see, this post is 6 or more years old. As I’ve aged the methods I can use have evolved and changed as my body has aged and changed. This isn’t the strategy I use anymore, but it’s a glimpse into my weight management past.

      • Lee Says:

        Ah, I missed the age of the post! But I’m incredibly impressed by the fact that you’ve managed to keep the weight off all these years. I’m one of the yoyo-ers – I manage to keep it down, but what “down” is varies a LOT. Food is hard work for me. I’m hoping keto will work permanently, and it seems to be doing the trick, but only time will tell 🙂

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