Nutrition with Kristin
Your stomach can't count calories!
In 2005, I was a 20-year-old nursing student who was mandated to take a basic nutrition course as part of my nursing curriculum. I had always been into fitness and health, but never realized the complexity behind the science of nutrition. I had an amazing teacher that exuded positivity and her love for the field and it was contagious! In my eagerness to learn more, my professor recommended the book “Volumetrics Weight –Control Plan- Feel Full on Fewer Calories” by Dr. Barbara Rolls. I read the book and immediately became hooked in the field of nutrition and that semester switched gears and changed my major from nursing to human nutrition and foods.
Fast-forward three years from that date, and I was halfway through my dietetic internship at The Pennsylvania State University. I remember sitting in a small classroom with my eight classmates feeling nervous and excited as my internship coordinator announced that a few of the “bigwigs” from the research lab would be coming to talk to us about our upcoming research rotation. And wouldn’t you know it, Dr. Barbara Rolls herself entered the classroom and spoke to us! She spoke with the same conviction and positivity that I remember from reading her book. This woman has made a huge contribution to nutrition research that is used in current practice today.
My purpose for flashing back to my college days as a nutrition student and intern is to prove to you that nutrition is a true science and requires specific steps and regulations to provide evidenced-based research for not only the long-term safety, but validity of practices in the field of dietetics. Anyone can call himself or herself a “nutritionist” or nutrition expert and often misleads people into following fad diets for that quick fix; however, the science shows that these results are often short-lived. Dr. Barbara Rolls’ Volumetrics program is more of a way of life that can be sustained and be effective long-term. When consulting with my weight-loss patients, I teach many of Dr. Rolls’ principles because it’s easy for patients to understand and maintain.
So what exactly are the principles of The Volumetrics Eating Plan? It focuses on what you can eat rather than what you cannot; it does not cut out food groups because the only proven way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than what your body uses as fuel. Essentially, it’s filling your body up on low energy-dense (low calorie) foods to feel fuller, longer. Now in the past Magazine Issues, I have discussed the importance of a good ratio of carbohydrates to protein to feel fuller, as well as adding fiber and healthy fats- this all holds true for Volumetrics; however, in this article, I am going to focus on energy density.
I always like to tell my clients “our stomachs can’t count.” Our bodies can’t recognize calories, only volume. We are creatures of habit, and studies show that we eat about the same amount of food everyday regardless of calories. Trick yourself by filling up on fewer calorie-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. We can eyeball portions- not calories!
For example, a ½ cup of potato salad is approximately 210 calories; however, you could eat 2 cups of a side salad with vinaigrette dressing for the same amount of calories, but quadrupling the volume of food going into your stomach. If you think about calories in terms of money, the concept is quite simple. If I give you $1500, you could spend it all in one place, but how satisfied would you be once you’ve reached your budget? The same holds true for calories. If you use up your calorie budget on a small volume of food, chances are you are going to be pretty hungry, which is what leads to overconsumption of calories, ending up in weight gain.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate Volumetrics into some common items:
- Pasta Salad - swap out half of the pasta for more vegetables (see recipe below).
- Pizza - rather than 2-3 slices of pizza at a sitting, eat 1 slice with a large side salad with vinaigrette dressing.
- Mac and Cheese - swap out half of the cheese and add some broccoli and cauliflower.
- Soup - opt for a broth based soup such as minestrone as apposed to a cream-based soup such as potato soup.
- Chicken or tuna salad on croissant - use low-fat mayo and use half the amount of mayo and double the chicken/tuna and add sliced grapes. Eat on whole wheat bread.
- Pancakes - use whole wheat flour, omit butter and syrup and replace with pureed fruit sauce (i.e. pureed strawberries) with fresh fruit.
- Dessert- instead of 1 small chocolate chip cookie, enjoy 1 cup Greek-style yogurt with fruit.
The basics of Volumetrics are quite simple and the foods that you love can still be incorporated; however, in a different amount, which is why the principles are sustainable. Eat healthy, move often, live well!