Photo by Almond Board of California
Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup

Factors besides hunger cause you to eat - or overeat. Becoming aware of these factors can help you control your eating more easily, eat foods you love, and ultimately help you control your weight and health. Certain foods, for instance, can actually aid weight loss. Once you incorporate more of these foods into your daily routine, you can begin to lose weight effortlessly.

Classic studies have found that as long as the volume of the food is high, people can feel full with fewer calories. In one study, drinking milkshakes with more air incorporated into them, compared with the same shakes containing less air, caused subjects to eat 12 percent less at the next meal without realizing it. In another study, researchers varied the amount of water in a food eaten as a first course and found similar results. Subjects were  exposed to one of three conditions. They were fed either 1) chicken rice casserole, 2) chicken rice casserole served with a glass of water, or 3) chicken rice soup (the casserole with water). The subjects who ate the soup consumed 26 percent fewer calories at the main course compared to the other conditions, even though each of the three choices contained the same amount of calories.

In another study, the researchers served salads of various sizes and calorie levels before a main course to determine the effect on the calorie intake of the whole meal. They found that people consumed the fewest overall calories—100 calories fewer—when they were served the largest, lowest-calorie salad before a meal.

Vegetables and soups have a naturally high water content (as do fruits). The higher a food’s water content, the higher its volume, but the lower its calorie density.

Researchers surmise that a large food volume caused by water or air, even without added calories, influences satiety - allowing you to eat more food for fewer calories - in a variety of ways. It causes stomach stretching and slows stomach emptying, stimulating the nerves and hormones that signal feelings of fullness. Also, visually seeing a large volume of food can increase your ability to feel satisfied by it. Finally, the larger a meal and the longer a meal goes on, studies show, your satisfaction declines and you lose interest in completing it. Water is the component in food which has the largest influence on how much you eat. These studies show eating a high-water-content, low-calorie first course enhances satiety and reduces calorie intake at the next course. This effect persists over time.

Pump It up

  • To lower the calories and increase the portion size of a favorite recipe, pump up the volume by adding vegetables as often as you can. This way, you can eat your usual portion for fewer calories,
  • Choose fresh fruits over dried fruits or juices. For 100 calories, you could eat 1/4 cup of raisins or two cups of grapes. (You’re more likely to fill up on the grapes),
  • Whip air into your yogurt and fruit snack by pureeing it in a blender with ice and turning it into a smoothie,
  • Try air-popped popcorn (3 cups is only 90 calories) or flaky or puffed cereals,
  • Start lunch or dinner with a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup or a big vegetable salad,
  • Turn main courses into soups or salads by adding broth or vegetables,
  • Try some of Katherine's Diet Simple Batch Soups...

I love soups … Warm … Filling … Comforting … Psychologically Satisfying. What could be better right now than curling up with a hearty, delicious bowl of, say, Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger, Cauliflower Vichyssoise, and some of my most popular soups found in Diet Simple, such as … Michel Richard's Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Soup, The Border Grill's Mexican Turkey Meatball Soup, Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Mint-Cilantro Raita, Simple Chinese Hot and Sour Soup ...

And it doesn’t hurt that studies show soups make it very easy to lose weight.

Diet Simple Bottom Line: Lose 20 pounds

Start lunch or dinner with a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup OR turn main courses into soups by adding water or broth. Save 200 calories a day! Do this every day and lose twenty pounds in one year… Wasn’t that SIMPLE? And oh…. so painless!

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