Are you trying to lose a few pounds?

If so, you’re probably confused by the many diets that promise to make your fat magically disappear if you follow their advice.

For instance, do I want to subsist solely on cabbage soup? No thanks!

There’s a more reasonable nugget of dieting wisdom out there that is reinforced in the latest book by Barbara Rolls, PhD, a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University, and Mindy Hermann, RD. It’s called The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet (HarperCollins), and it touts a very simple idea that’ll help you lose weight without feeling hungry all the time.

How does it work? I called Dr. Rolls, who shared her secrets with me…


The trick is stunningly simple actually. When you eat foods that have fewer calories per bite, your portion size grows but your overall calorie count doesn’t, Dr. Rolls said. The result? You feel full—not deprived—on fewer calories, so you’re more likely lose weight. That’s why she’s a big fan of “high-volume” foods. She shared three practical tips on how you can add more volume to your diet…


Don’t you love macaroni and cheese? It’s so scrumptious, but unfortunately, it’s also usually devilishly fatty and caloric. Well, I have good news for you. There’s a way to get all the goodness with fewer calories and more nutrition. In her lab, Dr. Rolls found that people who ate macaroni and cheese containing 28% puréed squash and cauliflower consumed the same total volume of food and were equally satisfied as those who ate regular mac and cheese, but here’s the kicker—they took in 182 fewer calories. A purée may not sound very appealing, but let me assure you, it is!

With this one simple change, you can simultaneously eat more nutrient-rich veggies—and cut calories—without sacrificing taste. You can add puréed carrots and spinach to spaghetti sauce…boil cauliflower along with potatoes before mashing them…tuck veggie purées into virtually any soup, stew, chili or casserole.

Before you purée, cook the vegetable so it’s soft. The easiest way to do that, said Dr. Rolls, is to microwave fresh or frozen veggies in a bowl with a bit of water until they’re soft. Then purée them in a blender.

For recipes on what to purée, check out the Facebook page that is dedicated to the book:


Adding air is another easy way to pump up the volume of food without adding calories. In another study, Dr. Rolls gave one group of people crunchy Cheetos and another group puffed Cheetos. Those who snacked on the airier, puffed variety took in 73% more food, in terms of volume—but 21% fewer calories. So snack on “volumized” foods such as popcorn, rice cakes and whipped yogurts, and enjoy a bowl of puffed cereal for breakfast.

I was concerned about this last point, because puffed carbs tend to have a higher glycemic index than less processed, unpuffed carbs—so I asked Dr. Rolls whether it would be more healthful for people, especially those with diabetes, to avoid puffed carbs to help keep their blood sugar under control. But Dr. Rolls said that the glycemic differences between puffed and unpuffed carbs are not very great, and that it’s much more convenient to eat puffed carbs, so she stands by her advice.


Many of my friends forgo appetizers if they eat out while they’re dieting—big mistake! To eat less of your entrée, start your meal with a big green salad or a bowl of broth- or tomato-based soup (the creamier ones aren’t worth it, because they’re usually very fattening). This jump-starts the process of filling you up. In Dr. Rolls’s research, people who began their lunches with a three-cup, 100-calorie salad ate 12% fewer calories, total, at lunch, and still felt satisfied. And those who started with a large bowl of soup consumed up to 20% fewer calories overall.