One of the questions I am asked repeatedly is what foods did I have to give up. I often joke that I just stopped eating like I was 19, as while that was a fantastic 19 years of my life, I couldn’t continue eating like that. I had to change, and it wasn’t a diet, it was a lifestyle change. One of the biggest things that helped me along the way was a book called The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The premise of this book is simple: it is to get you to think about eating fewer calories. How it gets there, however, is quite a different route than the normal calorie counting / calorie cutting diet. I hate diets – and this was therefore a book that piqued my interest.
The author, Dr. Barbara Rolls, has a simple premise – we are, essentially, creatures of habit. We will therefore sit down and eat the same volume of food until we feel full, time after time, meal after meal. The choices that we make are what becomes important – do
we choose to do that with pasta, or with salad. Do we increase the volume, essentially the bulk of that pasta by adding tons of vegetables cooked in a little oil, or is it just pure carbohydrates and cream sauce? We will eat that bulk until we feel full (the author has a love-affair with the word “satiety“, which is a fine word for “feeling full”, but repetition in this case breeds contempt), so that is where we make the caloric choice. This is the true brilliance of the book – this is where it spoke to me. Essentially she said “sure, go ahead and eat it, but if you:
- load it up with veg, or
- have a salad instead, or
- have this soup first (I’m a sucker for soup)
- reduce the caloric intake
- decrease the amount of high-calorie foods you eat until you “feel full”
- start to make more considered choices about what foods you are willing to eat.
The beauty of this book is actually how much it made me think about food. How much it made me want to make better choices, and how it helped me to learn to make them. It taught me to read labels (not as much as another book, which I will talk about another time). I’ve read other articles since, from much more professional writers, that give a very in-depth review of the diet, so I’m just going to leave you with my endorsement of this book. I can also point you to a Coles Notes (interesting fact: Cliffs Notes were licenced from this great Canadian high-school helper) summary of the plan at e-How, which does a good job of distilling it to one page. Finally, I encourage you to visit Dr. Rolls’ website, although it is somewhat sparse.
This book is a great primer on getting yourself reoriented about food, about making food choices, and about making lifestyle changes. It provides great explanations of the tips you hear all the time – why whole wheat pasta and breads are better, why switching to brown rice makes a difference, and why adding fruits and vegetables works for weight loss. The best part – if you follow the extensive recipes in the back, the food actually tastes good and you don’t feel like you are following any plan at all (we’ve only tried a few of them).