Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS Family & Community Health Sciences Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
There are many methods that you can use to increase bulk in your diet so your meals are more satisfying and filling. Fruits and vegetables in puree or chopped forms can be added to smoothies, quick breads, main dishes, or desserts. Try adding pumpkin puree to muffins or loaf bread and chopped zucchini or butternut squash to meat loaf or macaroni and cheese. Doing this cuts calories, adds bulk to your diet, and increases your fruit and vegetable intake which is needed by most Americans. Here are some additional tips to eat foods that are low in calories and high in density:
- Pay attention to your hunger and feelings of fullness and stop eating when full. Don’t eat when you are not hungry and be a mindful eater.
- Add fruit and vegetables to traditional dishes to stretch them along with adding fiber which makes you feel more full and satisfied.
- Start each main meal with a cup of vegetable soup or a side green salad. Both add bulk but few calories. Remember to choose a low-fat salad dressing and use a small amount.
- Use salsa as a dressing for salads or on a baked potato. It adds vegetables to your diet and is low in calories as compared to other dressings like sour cream or creamy salad dressings.
- Drink water rather than juices or sweetened beverages at meals or in-between.
- Fill half your lunch and dinner plate with fruits and vegetables. Go online to ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn more about preparing healthy meals and snacks.
- Set a good example for children by eating fruit everyday with meals or as snacks.
- When eating out, order a salad or extra vegetable rather than a starchy food.
- Eat a high fiber, low calorie snack like an apple before you go out to eat. Go into the restaurant feeling satisfied, not hungry and you will consume fewer calories overall.
- For snacks, choose a high fiber fruit or vegetable and pair it with a low-fat dairy product. For example, low-fat yogurt with fresh berries, or baby carrots and low-fat ranch dip. Snacks need to keep calories around 100 to 150 and add to the nutritional intake of your diet instead of just adding more fat, salt, sugar, or calories.
- Explore different meal and snack patterns. Choose a pattern that includes at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day. Eat more whole grains by substituting a whole-grain product for a refined product – such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. It’s important to substitute the whole-grain product for the refined one, rather than adding the whole-grain product.
- Research has shown most of us eat the same amount of food by weight each day. If you increase the water and bulk in your meals and snacks, you will eat a similar amount of food but fewer calories. In the end you will feel full and lose weight at the same time.