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Surprise! Bigger better when trying to lose weight

Park Forest/100210 - Garlic popcorn is served guests Harvest Fest Thorn Creek Nature Center Park Forest Saturday October 2 2010.

Park Forest/100210 - Garlic popcorn is served to guests at the Harvest Fest at the Thorn Creek Nature Center in Park Forest Saturday, October 2, 2010. (Brett Roseman/SouthtownStar) harvestfest_P2/news

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Updated: September 25, 2012 11:19AM



At first glance, the logic seems simple: To lose weight, you need to eat smaller portions. But is a half-empty dinner plate really the best strategy if it leaves you hungry and more likely to succumb to the midnight munchies?

For weight control, it turns out bigger portions — of the right foods — may be the answer. Numerous studies, many at Pennsylvania State University by Barbara Rolls, author of The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, suggest people are satisfied by the same volume of food at a sitting regardless of how many calories it contains.

So by bulking up dishes with few or no calories, you can have a full, satisfying plate that’s good for your waistline. Here are simple, flavorful strategies for getting more for less.

Blend in purees: One of the best ways to amp up portions but reduce calories is to work in vegetable purees.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who had pureed vegetables hidden in their meals ate the same quantity of food and were equally satisfied, but ate up to 350 fewer calories and two extra servings of vegetables a day than those who didn’t.

That can add up to 3 pounds of weight lost a month, not to mention the potential health benefits from the extra vegetables.

Try folding pureed winter squash (frozen or canned) into macaroni and cheese, adding cooked cauliflower to potatoes before mashing, or putting pureed cooked carrots or peas in casseroles.

Add cut vegetables: You don’t have to sneak vegetables to add volume, nutrition and satisfaction.

You also can use them in a way that gives an obvious burst of color and texture.

Slice zucchini into ribbons and add to linguine, layer sliced cucumber, radishes and grilled vegetables on sandwiches, and add red bell peppers and mushrooms to stews and chili.

Slice and dice: Cutting food to make it appear more plentiful is a winning strategy as well. In a study from Arizona State University, subjects given a bagel cut into pieces ate less but were as satisfied as those served a whole bagel. So cut and roast potatoes instead of baking whole, and make the official 3-ounce portion of meat look more sumptuous by slicing and fanning it out on the plate.

Incorporate air: Of course, air has no calories, and you can use it to inflate portions. One study showed people consumed about 70 fewer calories when given a more aerated cheese-puff snack.

So choose popcorn and puffed grain cereals over more dense chips, crackers and granola. And consider the sweet bargain of five cups of cotton candy for the same calories as a mere 11 jelly beans.

Also, get the same sized spread of cream cheese and butter for toast for fewer calories simply by using whipped varieties.

Gannett News Service



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