Delicious, Filling Foods That Don't Pack on Pounds
When you're hungry, cookies and chips might call your name from the pantry. But these junk foods are packed with lots of calories in a small portion, making them high-density foods. When you feel the urge to snack, reach for an apple, orange, or other fruit. Fruits are low-density foods, meaning they won't overload you with calories. Plus, they'll fill you up so you won't be hungry again soon.
Foods Containing Water Are More Filling
When a food is filled with water, its calories are spread out in a larger "package." A whole juicy tomato, for example, has the same calories as five dry pretzel sticks. You can eat 2 entire cups of juicy grapes as fresh fruits or a 1/4 cup of them dehydrated as raisins. So why not just drink water to feel full? Turns out, studies show that eating foods with lots of water in them make you less hungry, but drinking water alone doesn't.
Start the Day With Whole Grains
You probably know a healthy breakfast is important, but some mornings you barely have enough time to get dressed and grab your backpack before you head out the door. Whole-grain cereal is a healthy, filling solution that's easy to eat on the go. Look for a first ingredient starting with "whole grain," followed by "wheat," "oats," "rice," or "corn." No matter the meal, choose whole grains over refined, plain white bread, grains, or pasta.
Packing a Healthy Sandwich
If you pack your lunch for school, build a sandwich with healthy ingredients. Use whole-grain bread instead of regular white bread. Because the extra fiber takes longer to digest, you'll feel full longer. Some mayonnaise is OK, just make sure you use a small amount: 1 tablespoon is about right. Add a few slices of lean meat, and then pile on the veggies -- like tomatoes -- for more filling flavor. Or get creative with bell peppers, sprouts, or cucumbers for added crunch.
It's tough to pass up fries when you're eating fast food, but consider healthier, low-density options -- at least sometimes. Dig into a salad with a moderate amount of dressing, 2 tablespoons or less. But forget high-density croutons and tortilla strips -- both can be loaded with calories. To dump extra calories, split your burger with a friend or order a kid's meal.
Building a Better Pizza
The next time you order pizza, forget the pepperoni and the extra cheese. Instead, layer on veggies. These healthy, low-density toppings will fill you up and can make pizza tasty. If you really miss the meat, try chicken as a healthier option. For fun, make your own mini-pizzas at home using whole-grain English muffins as your crust.
Good-For-You Snacks and Party Munchies
If friends are coming over to hang out, get them on the healthy bandwagon too. For snacks, put out bowls of assorted raw veggies and fruits along with some bean, hummus, or guacamole dip. To satisfy salt cravings, choose whole-grain crackers, pretzels, or rice cakes. For bigger appetites, make mini-sandwiches using whole-grain bread, lean meat like turkey or chicken, and veggies.
You don't have to ignore your sweet tooth. Instead, downsize your portion. Love two scoops of ice cream for dessert? Try one scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with tasty berries for a healthier option. Other lower-calorie treats: pudding, Jell-O, and "fruit sundaes" -- lots of frozen fruit with 1 or 2 tablespoons of hot fudge or caramel sauce. Higher-calorie foods like sauce or whipped topping are OK in small amounts.
Get Your Parents On Board
It's easy to make healthy choices when you have healthy foods in the house. To make sure your kitchen isn't always stocked with junk food, offer to shop with your parents. They may be buying foods they think you'll like, rather than the most nutritious options for the family. Instead, suggest that you all fill the shopping cart with fruits and veggies, whole grains, and ingredients for healthy soups and salads.