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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:

FoodWeight divided by calories
and multiplied by 4
Protein gramsFiber gramsSatisfaction Score
--------------------------------------------------------------------Very satisfying--------------------------------------------------------------------
Turkey sandwich
on wheat bread
3.225634
Oatmeal made with 3/4 cup
oats + 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
4.422633
Bean burrito2141228
Grilled cheese on whole-
wheat with 1.5 oz
reduced-fat cheese
0.419526
Veggie omelet with 1 egg,
1/4 cup egg substitute,
1/2 cup broccoli
+ 1 oz cheese
3.6211.526
Minestrone soup, 2 cups810.3422
2 whole-wheat pancakes with
2 strips turkey bacon +
1 tablespoon lite syrup
4133.521
1 cup whole-wheat blend
pasta with 2/3 cup marinara
+ 2 tbsp Parmesan
4125.221
----------------------------------------------------------------Moderately satisfying----------------------------------------------------------------
Lite nonfat yogurt, 1 cup8111.320
Raisin Bran, 1 cup with
1/2 cup 1% milk
3.210619
Sour cream & chive
potato, 1
48719
Fresh fruit salad,
1 1/2 cups
8.82415
Caesar side salad with
reduced-fat ranch
dressing
3.67314
Cheese pizza, 1/12
of large pie
1.611114
Chocolate shake, 12 oz3.210113
-------------------------------------------------------------------Not so satisfying-------------------------------------------------------------------
Snickers, 2-ounce bar0.85.51.78
Potato chips, 2 oz0.8427
French fries, small order from fast-food chain1.2337
Cheese puffs, 2 oz0.840.65
Twinkie, 11.210.53
1|2
Reviewed on May 23, 2007

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