If you start to go crazy after a few days on a diet, you are not alone - deprivation is not good for body or soul and our bodies fight it all the way. This is one of the reasons diets don’t work. The good news is that there is a better way! A way to keep mentally and physically satisfied while losing weight is to maintain or even increase the volume of the food you eat, while still reducing kilojoules. This all comes down to changing the proportions of the food you eat – less energy dense foods and more of those that are nutrient rich and low in kilojoules.
The easiest way to illustrate this is with a meal. The following series of photos shows what I mean. Plate one has a meal with proportions that many would follow – meat taking up 1/3 of the plate, starchy foods another 1/3 and vegetables the remaining 1/3. A standard approach to reducing kilojoules would be to reduce portion size. This is what we see in plate two where the kilojoules of the meal have been reduced by 50%. What you see however, is a very small meal – one that is going to scream “eat more” after you have had it and an approach that will not help you achieve a healthier weight! Instead, as in plate three, we have reduced the meat to take up ¼ of the plate, the same with the mashed potato and have filled the rest of the plate with non-starchy vegetables. The result is a reduced kilojoule meal that has the same volume (or more) as the original meal. This will satisfy much more than the meal with reduced portions.
The same occurs with a sandwich. The cheese and salami sandwich pictured below is high in kilojoules. We could lower kilojoules by having half a round but this would not be satisfying. A better way to lower kilojoules is to replace butter or marg with a low fat spread, have cheese OR salami (not both) and volume-up with heaps of salad. The result is a much larger sandwich with half the kilojoules and more than twice the staying power of the original.
Bulking up with vegetables is one of the best strategies for diluting kilojoules and increasing satiety or satisfaction. It also increases the nutrient value of your diet considerably. Another strategy is to incorporate water into the food (this happens anyway when you volume up with vegetables). Studies have shown that vegetables eaten on their own with a glass of water do not have the same filling power as if the same vegetables and water are incorporated together as a soup. Interesting but it works!
Barbara Rolls in her book “The volumetric diet” explains all of this more fully. She recommends having a low kilojoule salad or low kilojoule soup as a starter for a main meal. Her research has shown that this means less kilojoules are eaten for the main course and users feel more satisfied.
It’s simple things like this that make the difference between successful weight loss and failure. Try it and see for yourself!