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.