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How to Stop Overeating

Try these tips for getting more satisfaction from fewer calories.

What Makes a Food Satisfying?

Research during the past decade suggests there are three factors that help make a meal more satisfying: the weight of the food, the amount of protein, and the amount of fiber.

A revolutionary study done by researchers at the University of Sydney in 1995 noted that of the 38 foods tested, certain foods scored higher in satiety. Top-scoring foods included whole-meal bread, grainy bread, cheese, eggs, brown pasta, popcorn, all-bran cereal, grapes, porridge, baked beans, apples, beefsteak, ling fish (a type of cod), and oranges. All of these foods are high in fiber, water, or protein.

And which foods tend to have low satiety scores (making them much easier to overeat)? These would be foods with large amounts of fat, sugar, and/or refined carbohydrates, like potato chips, candy bars, and white bread.

'Satisfaction Score' for 20 Common Dishes

So is there a way you can determine how satisfying your favorite foods are likely to be? A mathematical formula calculates a satisfaction score for a food. First we give a serving of a particular food points for its weight divided by calories (multiplied by 4 to give it significant point value). Secondly we, add the number of grams of protein it contains. Finally we add the number of grams of fiber. Using this point system, this is how 20 popular American dishes would rate:

Food Weight divided by calories
and multiplied by 4
Protein grams Fiber grams Satisfaction Score
--------------------------------------------------------------------Very satisfying--------------------------------------------------------------------
Turkey sandwich
on wheat bread
3.2 25 6 34
Oatmeal made with 3/4 cup
oats + 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
4.4 22 6 33
Bean burrito 2 14 12 28
Grilled cheese on whole-
wheat with 1.5 oz
reduced-fat cheese
0.4 19 5 26
Veggie omelet with 1 egg,
1/4 cup egg substitute,
1/2 cup broccoli
+ 1 oz cheese
3.6 21 1.5 26
Minestrone soup, 2 cups 8 10.3 4 22
2 whole-wheat pancakes with
2 strips turkey bacon +
1 tablespoon lite syrup
4 13 3.5 21
1 cup whole-wheat blend
pasta with 2/3 cup marinara
+ 2 tbsp Parmesan
4 12 5.2 21
----------------------------------------------------------------Moderately satisfying----------------------------------------------------------------
Lite nonfat yogurt, 1 cup 8 11 1.3 20
Raisin Bran, 1 cup with
1/2 cup 1% milk
3.2 10 6 19
Sour cream & chive
potato, 1
4 8 7 19
Fresh fruit salad,
1 1/2 cups
8.8 2 4 15
Caesar side salad with
reduced-fat ranch
3.6 7 3 14
Cheese pizza, 1/12
of large pie
1.6 11 1 14
Chocolate shake, 12 oz 3.2 10 1 13
-------------------------------------------------------------------Not so satisfying-------------------------------------------------------------------
Snickers, 2-ounce bar 0.8 5.5 1.7 8
Potato chips, 2 oz 0.8 4 2 7
French fries, small order from fast-food chain 1.2 3 3 7
Cheese puffs, 2 oz 0.8 4 0.6 5
Twinkie, 1 1.2 1 0.5 3
1 | 2
Reviewed on May 23, 2007

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