Barbara Rolls, a weight management researcher at Penn State University has written a new book entitled The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, Smart, Simple, Science Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off, published in April 2012. Dr Rolls was interviewed in the March 2012 Nutrition Action Health Letter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Her research has continued to show that if we decrease the caloric density in the food we eat, while maintaining taste (or palatability), we eat fewer calories, and overweight people LOSE WEIGHT. In a study where portion sizes were decreased and/OR caloric density was decreased, people ate fewer calories AND lost weight. Decreasing caloric density alone had a bigger effect than just decreasing portion size. When portion sizes were decreased by 25%, people ate 10% fewer calories than usual over the course of 2 days. When caloric density was decreased by 25%, people ate 24% fewer calories than usual over 2 days. When BOTH portion sizes and caloric density were decreased by 25%, people ate 32% fewer calories than usual. In a long term study, people who cut fat and portion sizes lost 15 pounds over 6 months, but those who also increased vegetable intake lost 20 lbs over 6 months. At the end of the year both groups had kept most of the weight off (both groups had regained only 1.5 lbs). The other thing Dr Rolls studies have shown is that cutting out liquids that contain calories (soda, fruit juices/drinks) cut hundreds of calories from peoples diets. Fluids such as non-fat milk or yogurt based fruit smoothies helped people to eat less at meals, BUT, plain non-fat or other milk did not help to decrease calories consumed from food–something about a more viscous liquid helped decrease calories.

So, how do you put this into practice?
ADD VEGETABLES to foods–chop or puree vegetables and add them to soups and stews, casseroles, meat loaf….. Adding vegetables for Breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner for both kids and adults has been shown to not only decrease total caloric intake, but to increase vitamin and mineral intake–a win-win situation. Start with 1/4 cup vegetable per serving–if your meatloaf serves 4 people, add 1 cup chopped or pureed vegetable. If you are scrambling eggs for 2 people, add 1/2 cup vegetables. Increase vegetables as your family gets used to them. I find that substituting chopped broccoli or cauliflower for 1/2 the pasta in macaroni and cheese, 1/2 the rice or mashed potatoes I’m making is very palatable.

Other ways you can decrease caloric density–substitute skinless chicken breast or shrimp, crab or white fish for higher fat meats like beef (you can get very lean beef, but the chicken and fish are even lower in fat and calories).