Eat More Food but Less Calories

"More food, less calories" may sound great if you love to eat! In fact, fiber-rich, watery foods deliver more volume to your plate for fewer calories. So fit them into your food-group choices. Ounce per ounce, foods with more fat and with less fiber and water are more energy dense, with more calories per ounce. Energy-dense foods add up to a lot less food for the same calories than those low in energy density.

To compare, 1 cup of sliced raw carrots has 50 calories, and so does just 0.33 ounce of chips. (Even a small snack bag of chips is at least 1 ounce, or 150 calories.) And the carrots give you more nutrients and fiber, take longer to eat, and can leave you feeling satisfied with fewer calories. Other foods high in volume but low in energy density include broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables, fat-free and low-fat milk and yogurt, and beans. Refer to "Food: A Water Source"in chapter 8 for the percentage of water in common foods.

  • Be aware that many grain products are a mix of whole-grain and refined-grain ingredients. They don't count as a full whole-grain portion.
  • Try less common Grains Group foods, perhaps quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, or couscous. Enjoy grain-based salads, perhaps pasta salad, rice pilaf salad, or tabouli (made with bulgur). Or enjoy risotto (made with arborio rice) or polenta (made with cornmeal). Refer to "Today's Grains" in chapter 9.
  • Try these snack options: air-popped popcorn, graham crackers, matzos, pretzels, rice cakes, saltines, bread sticks, zweiback, baked tortilla chips, and whole-grain crackers. Many taste great with vegetable dips or fruit spreads.
  • For sweet desserts from the Grains Group, consider angel food cake, gingersnaps, and oatmeal cookies more often than frosted cake, brownies, and pie. Count the "extra" calories as "discretionary."
  • Check the ingredient list on food labels to find foods made with whole grains, and to find grain products fortified with folic acid and other nutrients. Check chapter 6 for ways to identify whole-grain foods.
  • Use whole-grain bread for sandwiches, toast, and more. It's hard to make at least half your grains whole if you don't.

Have You Ever Wondered

Have You Ever Wondered

  • where potato chips and corn chips fit in MyPyramid? Potato chips fit within the Vegetable Group; corn chips, within the Grains Group. Yet they supply more fat and more calories (more energy density) than other foods in those groups. Eat these foods with discretion; try baked varieties, which have fewer calories and less fat. Count their calories as part of your discretionary calories that you can spend.
  • if potatoes can substitute for bread since they're both high in starches? Potatoes are among the starchy vegetables in the Vegetable Group. Breadfruit, cassava, corn, green peas, hominy, lima beans, rutabaga, taro, and yau-tia are some others. Although high in starches, vegetables have different nutrients and phytonutrients than foods in the Grains Group. Potatoes, for example, supply vitamin C and potassium; Grains Group foods supply some B vitamins and iron.
Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies

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