Filling Up on Low-Fat Food

It Worked for Me!

From the WebMD Archives

Does losing weight seem like pie in the sky? Not so, if you make low-fat food your friend. Luckily, many naturally low-fat foods -- fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes -- are fully loaded with fiber and nutrients, which makes them great diet foods.

It's the fiber that fills you up, and keeps you from pigging out. "Studies show that if you start a meal with a big salad, you'll end up eating less at that meal," says Kathleen Zelman, WebMD's director of nutrition. It's why these foods help with healthy weight loss.

Will your family switch to low-fat food? Can you entice them to choose carrots over candy? We asked WebMD's community: What are your best ideas for filling up on foods that aren't fattening?

Here are proven ideas from parents trying to eat healthy every day:


  • I let my kids fill up on fruits and veggies BEFORE dinner.
  • While I'm cooking dinner, and the kids are hungry, I cut up fresh fruits, veggies, and cheese and let them snack. They are much more willing to eat their veggies that way. I don't care if they are full by dinnertime, because they've already eaten the healthiest part of the meal!


  • The kids see us eat a salad almost every night, so they both love salad, too. Broccoli slaw is also a huge hit. It comes bagged with shredded broccoli, red cabbage, and carrots. They love it with a sweet dressing, like poppy seed or French.


  • I do not have a problem getting my kids to eating anything. We've always made it fun, and we started early. We made sure it was colorful -- colorful fruits and veggies in a colorful bowl.


  • We keep healthy whole foods in the house! I'd much rather DS eat an apple than drink the juice.


  • I give my kids veggies or fruit to snack on before dinner while I finish preparing the meal. That way, they eat them while they are hungriest -- instead of leaving them on the plate.


  • I put unsweetened applesauce instead of syrup on French toast. On waffles, I use low-fat vanilla yogurt in place of syrup. I also use applesauce in place of oil when baking muffins and making pancakes -- or add mashed bananas to the batter for a different flavor.


  • I put out fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal -- especially if people are hanging out in the kitchen waiting for their food to be cooked!


  • My kids love frozen vegetables. They think it is a treat to eat them still frozen.


Love Those Low-Fat Food Ideas!

These WebMD readers have learned the most important trick -- making healthy foods easy to grab, says Zelman. "Studies have shown that it works, cutting everything up," says Zelman. "If it's easy and right there, they will grab it. Otherwise, they're into cookies, chips, and other junk."

Here are some high-fiber food ideas to use in your own kitchen:

  • Make your own crunchy granola. Bake three cups of oats at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, then cool and mix in a variety of chopped dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
  • Trick your stomach with soup. Soup is a great filler-upper. You'll eat 20% fewer calories when you start a meal with soup, research shows. Read canned soup labels carefully. Stick to low-calorie, low-fat, high-fiber broth-based soups like vegetable bean or minestrone. Forget the creamy or other high-fat soups! Or, get out the crock pot and make your own -- loaded with high-fiber whole grains, beans, vegetables, and vegetable broth. Lean meat is optional. Soup is super!
  • Experiment with whole grains. Mix an assortment of grains with sauteed veggies. "It makes a very interesting side dish," says Zelman. "Each grain has a slightly different flavor and color. And the great thing is, these dishes can be served hot, cold, or room temperature."
  • Grill or roast veggies. Portobello mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, onions are great for this. Toss with olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper (or your favorite vinaigrette). Eat them as a side dish, as a topping on grilled chicken sandwiches, or alone on a bun as a "veggie burger."

To keep things interesting, stay open to new food products, Zelman advises. "Broccoli slaw is awesome! I throw craisins, raisins, nuts into it. Mix it with low-calorie dressing. One recipe calls for grilled chicken breast served over broccoli slaw, with Asian dressing over it. It's to die for!"

WebMD readers: Keep posting your great suggestions on our message boards. Here are some links:

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 13, 2009


SOURCES: WebMD readers. Kathleen Zelman, WebMD's director of nutrition. WebMD Feature: "The Whole Foods Diet," "Healthy Picnic Food Ideas," "Five Heart Healthy Foods," "Soup First Cuts Calories Later."

© 2007 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.


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