The Hungry Mind

By Joyce Hendley, M.S.

EatingWell interviews Barbara J. Rolls, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (HarperCollins, 2005)

"To be honest I read the first page of this article and got bored. But with the page I read, I felt as if I learned a little bit more about food and drinking water. "

When you eat low-energy-dense foods, you can have big, satisfying portions. With the very low range of energy density—nonstarchy vegetables and fruits—it’s very hard to overeat calories. You’d have to eat huge volumes. So you can consider those free foods—the ones you should turn to when you get the munchies. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up foods that are higher in energy density… just moderate the portions.

Most of us who manage our weight on a daily basis do this anyway. When I talk with people who’ve been a normal weight most of their lives, they say they eat a pattern that’s pretty high in fruits and vegetables, and lower in fat—and they’re not eating everything in sight. Most of us are using some restraint on a daily basis, because frankly, we’re now confronted with so much food every day that you almost have to be “the weird one” not to become overweight.
Q: But the foods we’re surrounded by are usually high in energy density—like fast foods and sweets. How do we keep from piling them on our plates?

It takes a mindset. You have to be aware of what you’re eating, and you have to have a plan. Ideally, you should decide where you’re going to eat, choosing where you know you’ll find options that fit with your plan. It’s easier in some places than in others—but if enough of us ask for healthier foods, the food industry is going to give them to us. The success of salads at some fast-food restaurants has already sent a message.

Next: More of Joyce's research findings »

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