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Eat Soup as a Satisfying Way to Lose Weight

Soup. Nothing warms the body or soul like it. And studies show, eating it helps you lose weight. My clients who make batches of soup this time of year do - as do I. That's great news because during this time of year, we all crave hearty, satisfying dishes, which are almost always fattening - with most soup being the exception...

Classic studies have found that as long as the volume of the food is high, even if the volume is just water with no added calories, people can feel full with fewer calories. In one study, researchers varied the amount of water in a food eaten as a first course to study this effect. Subjects were fed one of three conditions: either chicken rice casserole, chicken rice casserole served with a glass of water or chicken rice soup. The subjects who ate the soup consumed 26 percent fewer calories at the main course compared to the other conditions.

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 are foods that have a naturally high water content. 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 in a variety of ways. When the water is incorporated into the food (as opposed to just a glass of water), 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.

One of my favorites found in my new book: "Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!" is Cauliflower Vichyssoise...