Stuff yourself to lose weight!

Picture of Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

Some of you might have heard of the “Volumetrics” diet — the original book was published in 2000 by Barbara J. Rolls, PhD (a professor of nutrition at Penn State) after she had discovered in lab experiments that people naturally eat fewer calories when they eat foods that are low in energy density. Energy density is the amount of energy, or calories, in a food compared to how heavy the food is — the lower the energy density, the lower calories per measure of weight. So for example, celery, which is made up of a lot of fiber and water, has a low energy density; cheddar cheese — mostly fat and no fiber or water — is very high on the energy density scale. By adding some lower energy-dense foods to your diet (foods high in fiber and water, like fruits and vegetables), you may fill up more quickly and end up eating fewer calories overall — even though you consume MORE food by weight. The most recent iteration of the diet was published in 2012: Dr. Rolls’ diet has won widespread acclaim from scientists and nutritionists, and is always listed as one of the best diets available.

While I did not specifically follow Dr. Rolls’ Volumetrics diet plan when I lost my 120 pounds back in 2006, I definitely DID subscribe to her philosophy and ate the way she recommends. I love to eat. I feel comforted when my belly is full. I feel a lot of anxiety if my belly is empty; when hunger pangs start, it might as well be a full-on emergency. I know that’s crazy, but that’s me (and many other people who have weight issues). So in order for me to feel satisfied while also significantly lowering my caloric intake, I had to start stuffing myself with veggies. LOTS of veggies. One of my favorite recipes that I made up is a hearty low-calorie vegetable soup that I make without any added fat. I eat it for lunch pretty much all winter; adding half a cup of kidney beans to 2 cups of the soup provides extra protein and fiber, and I truly feel stuffed after eating it. Broth-based soups are one of the stars of Volumetrics, so if you’re interested in trying this eating style, give my homemade vegetable soup a try!

Makes ~10 2-cup servings

2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar & pestle (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
8-10 ounces sliced cremini (“baby bella”) mushrooms
1 10-16 ounce bag of chopped kale
2 large or 3 medium zucchini, chopped
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 T Better ‘n’ Bouillon soup base (I use beef, but chicken or vegetable works too)
splash of red wine vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Heat 1 cup water in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the Herbes de Provence and fennel seeds and simmer while you chop the onion. Add the onion and simmer for a minute or two (until translucent), then add mushrooms and kale (picking out very large stems). Continue simmering over medium heat and stir intermittently while you chop the zucchini. Then add the zucchini and the tomatoes. Fill each empty tomato can with water and add that too. Then add the soup base and vinegar, turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then turn down to low-medium to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper as desired. (I often add more soup base, too, but that adds a lot of sodium, so if you’re trying to watch your salt intake, be cognizant of this ingredient!)




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