Feeling satisfaction from food involves a complex interplay of factors, from stretch receptors in our stomach to nutrient receptors in the intestines. Satisfaction differs from satiation, or feeling full to excess, which is an indication merely that you ate sufficient or excessive quantities of food. In fact, foods that truly satisfy actually prevent satiation.
To feel satisfied, you need to eat enough bulk. In fact, the average American consumes 5.5 lbs of food each day.1 You also need to consume enough nutrients, and over a long enough period of time, as the body doesn't register fullness until at least 20 minutes following the first bite.
If either the need for bulk or the need for nutrition is not met, the tendency is to overeat, either by stuffing oneself, or by snacking indiscriminately and continuously.
If you meet these needs with food that lacks the bulk provided by water and fiber, you will consume too many calories and put on pounds. That's as certain as death or taxes.
Here is the caloric content in 5 lbs of several common foods.
5 Lbs Worth
spinach: 520 calories
peaches: 885 calories
carrots: 930 calories
red potatoes: 1,585 calories
kidney beans: 1,925 calories
pasta: 2,950 calories
salmon: 3,150 calories
cheese: 9,150 calories
cashews: 13,177 calories
olive oil: 20,050 calories
You see, foods with water and fiber are naturally low in calories, so you don't have to restrict yourself to small portions. Why eat like a teenage girl on her first date when you can enjoy lbs of fresh fruits and vegetables, guilt-free? Even beans are much lower in calories than grains, meats, nuts, dairy and oils.
In fact, 5 lbs of kidney beans nicely coincides with your daily caloric needs, providing nearly 2,000 calories. In addition, such a gargantuan portion of beans (6 cans) supplies nearly 150 grams of fiber, 120 grams of protein, and over 100 percent of the daily requirement for 8 major nutrients. However, if you opted to devote the day to eating cheese instead, by satisfying your bulk requirements and eating 5 lbs of Parmesan, you would have consumed 7,000 calories too many, which equals 2 lbs of belly flab.
We are not saying anyone in her right mind would dare consume 5 lbs of either beans or cheese in a sitting; we are merely illustrating this take-home message:
Lesson to be learned: As the water and fiber content in your food diminishes, calories increase, body weight balloons and fat storage skyrockets.
The only way to feel truly satisfied is to choose foods that are nutritious, bulky (high in water and fiber) and require thorough chewing, which lets them hit all your taste receptors and allows for the sensation of satisfaction to sink in.
Once again, the prescription is plants, which have the added benefit of being naturally delicious.
1United States Department of Agriculture Fact Book, 2001-2002