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Eat to feel full — not fat

The success of a healthy diet often relies on your ability to work it seamlessly into your lifestyle. Understanding a bit about the science of satiety — the sense of fullness that triggers us to stop eating — is a good start.

Barbara Rolls, an obesity researcher at Pennsylvania State University, has found that most people eat the same volume of food every day, regardless of whether the actual number of calories varies. If a person's body craves a particular amount of food to feel satisfied, providing that volume with low-calorie foods is a simple strategy for eating fewer calories without feeling deprived.

Asian food is great for trying this because low-calorie and high-fiber brown rice and vegetables are key ingredients. If you normally would eat a plate of sweet-and-sour chicken, try filling half your plate with brown rice and steamed vegetables before adding the chicken. This bulks your meal with healthy foods and still allows you to enjoy a favorite dish.

Eating soup, especially those that are broth- and not cream-based, is another good strategy. Here are some other tips for using volume to your advantage:

  • Eating the recommended 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day will help you feel full.
  • When you're cooking, add more vegetables or whole grains to the recipe. This adds bulk, but fewer calories.
  • Eat fewer dry foods, such as breads, crackers and pretzels. They tend to be calorie dense and easy to overeat.
  • Stick to beverages that are nutrient-rich, such as vegetable juices or low-fat dairy drinks (which also are more filling than soda).

— The Associated Press