Monday, August 27, 2012

Tips for Weight Management; Volumetrics and My Food Label Guide "Phone App"

That's a lot of broccoli.

But, even with the tiny bit of oil that was used to cook the broccoli, that large bowl of broccoli still contains less calories than 2 T (one serving) of this peanut butter.

And yet, I feel much more full after eating that broccoli!

Two things prompted me to write this post on volumetrics. First was the article in March's Nutrition Action Healthletter. The second thing that prompted me to write this post was viewing the documentary "Forks Over Knives". I was so excited to see this movie, yet I was extremely disappointed with the one-sided views portrayed throughout (I was going to write a post about it, but I don't even want to). The one good part of the movie was when they discussed how certain foods, like fruits and vegetables, expand our stomachs and send signals of satiety to our brain, and how the same number of calories worth of a burger or even olive oil (aka more energy dense, less nutrient dense, and less voluminous kinds of foods) will not expand the stomach as much, and will not send those same fullness signals to the brain.

Source: iStockPhoto

  • definition of nutrient density: lots of nutrients for few calories, and typically more volume of food

  • definition of energy density: lots of calories (aka: energy), little nutrients and little volume of food

Last Monday I posted my own "Fad Diet" (aka my own personal diet that I'm trying to promote and make a ton of money off of. If you eat like me, you can be skinny too! Haha, jk, such a joke, I love making fun of fad diets). Anyway, something that I didn't mention in that post is that I choose foods based on the concept of volumetrics. Like most people, I love food, and I love to eat, but I often fall into the trap of eating despite not really being hungry. I could sit here and lie to you and tell you that I eat intuitively 100% of the time, but that's not true (although I'd like to think I eat intuitively about 85% of the time!). Where am I going with this? Like most Americans I like to eat food, and I find that I enjoy higher volume foods because they take me longer to eat and they fill me up more because of their higher volume (even if they don't always contain more fiber, fat, and protein ---- all components of food that promote fullness and satiety).

Another benefit of higher volume eating, despite the fact that you get to eat more (eat more volume, but not necessarily more calories, that's the key here) is that those higher volume foods tend to be healthier (not always though, such as my rice cakes that I love to eat. They don't really provide any health benefits, but they are high volume, for few calories!).

For this very reason I like to add vegetables and/or fruits (or other foods that are high volume, high nutrient density, low energy density) to my foods......

I layer my parfaits with pumpkin and frozen berries.

I add a thick layer of steamed veggies on top of a thin layer of pasta.

I rarely use my juicer because this is what happens to the fiber/ruffage of my fruits and veggies (aka; the components that add volume and nutrient density!)

And if I do juice, I use this ruffage in other recipes (such as smoothies).

I add extra vegetables to my frozen meals, such as this frozen meal from Macaroni Grill. See how green it is? I added an entire bag of frozen kale in order to expand the volume, and increase the nutrient density of the meal.

Here are some higher volume, higher nutrient-dense, lower energy-dense foods;
(Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter. )

  • Celery and cucumber
  • Cooked asparagus
  • Salad greens
  • Salsa
  • Strawberries
  • Vegetable soup
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Light or low fat yogurt (unsweetened)
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Lentil soup
  • Cottage cheese
  • Grapes
  • Tofu, firm
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas
  • Bran flakes
  • Brown rice
  • Shrimp, steamed
  • Turkey breast
  • Light tuna

Here are some lower volume, lower nutrient-dense, higher-energy dense foods (plus my suggestions for swaps);
(Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter. )

  • Bread
  • French fries -----(choose baked versions!)
  • Light mayo
  • Raisins -----(choose grapes!)
  • Hard pretzels
  • Trail mix ----- (skip the added sugars!)
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Ranch dressing ------ (Use oil and vinegar!)
  • Bacon
  • Potato chips (choose air-popped popcorn!)
  • Oil -----(Just cut down, and remember a little goes a very long way)

Before I finish this post, don't forget to check out my label book/Smart phone app, which is finally finished and on sale! You can read all the details here. Let me know if you have any questions.

QUESTION: What's your favorite way to add volume and nutrient density to your meals? Do you have any swaps that you like to use (for example; instead of eating 100 calories worth of raisins, eat 100 calories worth of water-packed grapes).

HAPPY MONDAY!! Yes, it can be a happy Monday :)


  1. Great tips! I love added veggies to thinks to increase the volume!

  2. I guess I'm lucky that most of my favorite foods are on your "higher volume, higher nutrient-dense, lower energy-dense foods" list! I always add a layer of spinach under every meal. I also tend to add a large portion of steamed vegetables to most dishes. I try to make at least 50% of my plate fresh veggies. Not only is it better for you, but your plate looks so much prettier!

  3. i'm for higher volume, higher nutrient, low density food :)
    thanks for giving me ideas :)

  4. Great tips!

    I try to make the biggest part of every meal veggies, and add spinach and salad greens to pretty much everything... :)

  5. I think despite knowing fruit and vegetables are healthy people don't get the volume concept. I ate even more veggies/greens than normal on our raw week and was never hungry. I also find juices (green) very satisfying not as a veggie replacement but in between meals even though they don't have the fiber component. Perhaps, it's as Barbara Rolls said it's like a veggie soup different from water but still low calorie.

  6. Great tips! We're always adding veggies to sauces to up the volume. I love adding TONS of spinach to tomato sauce and frozen dinners.

  7. This is such a helpful topic for people to understand!

    The other day you asked me what Pin It button I use, and I just checked in my admin site---it's called Pin It on Pinterest, and it's a plugin I use through Wordpress. You might be able to find it for blogger though, I'm not sure!

  8. Great tips! We love Indian Food and love those little premade packs of Madras Lentils, etc. I usually add a ton of vegetables to the mix, since they are very sauce-heavy.

    Congrats on the App!!

  9. Great post Gina! I pile my plate high with veggies in hopes it will run off on my kids (one day it will :-). I ET for volume, but also find I need some protein and fat with my meals to keep me full until the next meal. So exciting you have an "app". Will definitely keep this in mind for my clients!

  10. Yes, I definitely like volumninous food! I like adding veggies more than fruits in my meals. I love big bowl of crunchy stir fries with some form of protein. the only problem is that sometimes too much vegetables cause gas and bloating and that's not fun! :)

    swap: dry fruit by fresh fruits; water with lime for soda; high fiber low carb pasta for traditional pasta.

  11. mmm give me that big fat bowl of broccoli ANY DAY. lately i've also been in love with tossing brussels in coconut oil and then roasting them. FABUUUULOUS

  12. Eek. this is a sensitive area for me because I remember I used to eat loads and loads of vegetables to fill myself up. It would definitely help for people needing to watch their weight, but volumetric eating is my pitfall right now. I tend to avoid eating too much vegetables, esp raw ones.

  13. Great tips. I get veggies into as many things as possible. Sauces, smoothies, etc....
    thanks as always for all the great info Gina! Your blog is a wonderful source of useful info. Have a great day.

  14. Volumetrics is great for when you want to feel really full and satisfied without overeating, but as I'm fairly young and active, I can afford to 'treat' myself with plenty of high calorie healthy stuff like avocado, nuts and cheese :) I definitely agree with adding veggies to everything though, it's delicious and adds loads of nutrition. I love pasta with all kinds of veggies!

  15. Hey- super interested in your thoughts on Knives over Forks. There were a lot of things I really appreciated about the movie-but didn't agree with everything. I'd be interested in your perspective. I did a rotation with Connie Diekman, the RD quoted in the movie. :)