Cookies, chips, and other high-fat foods can taste great. But they have little nutritional value, and they pack a lot of calories in a small portion — so they’re energy-dense. You can eat more without overloading on calories. Here’s how: Choose low-density foods. These foods — such as apples, oranges, and other fruits — have fewer calories for a larger portion. And they keep you feeling full longer.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
A little creativity can go a long way to get kids more interested in low-calorie dense foods. Cut fruit and vegetables into fun shapes — like carrot flowers or watermelon stars. Use veggies or fruits to make a funny face on an open-faced sandwich or a bowl of cereal.
2. Water-Rich Foods
Fruits and vegetables contain more water and fiber than processed foods, making you feel fuller. For example, a whole, juicy tomato has the same calories as five dry pretzel sticks. Try swapping out dry foods with water-rich ones to feel fuller. Would you rather eat 2 whole cups of juicy grapes or a 1/4 cup of them dehydrated as raisins? They’re the same calorie-wise.
3. Beans, Peas, and Lentils
Beans, peas, and lentils are packed with powerful nutrients and energy for growing bodies. They have similar amounts of protein as meat but less fat. Their high fiber content can also leave your family feeling full and can help prevent constipation. So try adding them to soups, making a chilled bean salad, or substituting them for meat in a main dish.
4. Whole Grains in the Morning
The rush to get out the door can sometimes make even the most health-conscious parents lose focus on the all-important healthy breakfast. So take your breakfast to-go. Pack cereal for kids to eat in the car. Choose whole-grain over high-sugar options for better weight control. And grab a protein bar or high-fiber cereal to eat when you get to work. Fiber and protein can keep you feeling fuller, longer.