Eat More Food—Really!

One of my favorite things about eating healthy is that, generally, I get to eat more than most people. That may sound counterintuitiveat first, but for those who make a point to get their five-plus servings of fruits and veggies a day (I average around nine; I’m such an overachiever when it comes to food), you know what I’m talking about. If you’re still confused, let me explain.

On the whole, fruits and veggies have a much lower number of calories in them. In addition, fruits and vegetables usually have a lot of water, fiber and nutrients in them, making them heavier and more fulling than other processed foods. Take potato chips, for example. One ounce of potato chips has about 150 calories. One ounce of grapes? Just 20 calories. So, while you can down an entire bag of potato chips and never really feel “full,” you can have a couple of cups of grapes as a snack and be pretty satiated. The fancy name for this whole idea is caloric density, but that’s just good party trivia. The real point is: If you pick the right foods, you can eat more. Hooray!

Why am I bringing this up, you ask? Well, it’s because I got persnickety with a co-worker the other day. I should have had more patience, but when someone keeps commenting on how much you eat, it starts to rub you the wrong way after awhile. You feel me?

Here’s how our convo went at lunch:

Her: “You sure do eat a lot.”

Her plate.

Me: “Well, I have a good appetite with how much I work out, and I try to make healthy choices.”

My plate.

Now multiply the conversation by three over the course of a short business trip, and you might start to understand my frustration.

I realize that she doesn’t know that the caloric density on her plate is waaaay higher than mine, and although she’s eating less physical food, she’s still consuming at least two times more calories than me. But, it’s just that I know that she is like so many others. And it saddens me. With so many fitness and nutrition blogs, magazines and TV shows out there, the information is there; it’s just not always put into action or it’s detracted from by all the quick weight-loss ads. Don’t get me wrong. My diet is far from perfect, and I enjoy everything in moderation, but on the whole, less is not always more, my friends. In fact, if you pick wisely, more can be more. —Jenn

Photos by jslander and moria on Flickr.

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  1. MizFit says:

    totally the convo I have with people all the time.

    and yet so many of em (HELLO HUSBAND :)) would choose the cr*p and less of it.

  2. Erica says:

    AGREE! I also have had this conversation with a few different folks. That and the….yes I do really enjoy eating this kind of food (after remarks of ughh what is that chickpeas? a sweet potato? Quin-what?)

    Keep up the good work with the running!

  3. R says:

    Fantastic points. I do the same as you, eat A LOT…mostly fruits and veggies..and i get as much grief from it as well, I even had professors in grad school questioning how much I could eat without plumping up. HELLO people! Its celery! Maybe my chomping was just distracting and that was their way of telling me to cut-it-out. Either way, the message didn’t take 🙂

    Great Post! Sometimes people just need to hear it out loud for it to register. THanks!


  4. Crabby McSlacker says:

    Well, I eat a lot even when I’m eating crap, but part of the reason I choose healthy most of the time is that I get to eat all I want!

    I can’t believe anyone would comment though. Especially when you’ve got a plate full of salad!

  5. DomestiGals says:

    Hey Jenn! I totally agree – I have never been hungry on my Colossus Diet (that’s my trainer, obv) and I have never felt more fit. It’s all about smart choices – my classmates cringe at my lunchtime tupperware of broccoli, but it makes a huge difference!
    xoxo, DomestiGal Jen

  6. tfh says:

    I wish I could eat lunch with you. There would be no snide comments or surprised stares. Not to mention, the more you run, the more you really do feel like an athlete who has to “fuel up” regardless of your level… something that people who associate exercise only with dieting/weight loss have trouble appreciating!

  7. moonduster says:

    Excellent point and completely true!

  8. Dara Chadwick says:

    One of the things I was shocked about when I was working with a dietitian to lose weight was how much she had me eating — but it was all veggies and lean protein.

  9. Elle says:

    This is absolutely true! Because I watch what I eat and work out, my friends have this "negative" perception that I'm starving myself. But in fact, since I started eating better, I've been eating more than ever before! Fiber & protein = awesome. Before, I never ate breakfast (the first time I ate a lot of the time was lunch) and tried to snack as little as possible, but now I eat breakfast EVERY morning and have a mid-morning and afternoon snack. When will people learn?

  10. Pam says:

    Thank you! Just the other day at work, I could feel a co-workers eyes on me as I happily ate my healthy, bulky lunch: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 apple, yogurt with almonds and fresh pineapple. When she finished her giant can of Cambell’s soup, she says with a snide, ‘Man, you eat healthy.’
    How should I respond to that? It wasn’t a question. It was just a statement.
    I replied, ‘Yes I do.’ What does she expect me to say, “Sorry, i was all out of dog food when I packed my lunch.”

  11. Zucchini Breath says:

    Well put! Thanks for the fun essay.

  12. Juliet says:

    Love the marathon update. Keep up the good work!!

    As for your food, it looks a lot like what I ate for lunch today. 🙂 It is amazing how clueless people are when it comes to calories…

  13. Sagan says:

    I have that conversation with people so often! I love being able to eat lots more in terms of volume 🙂

  14. Lori says:

    It’s so true what you said about the information being there, but people just not getting it. I ran into that all the time. In additon you have those that know the ‘what’ to do, but can’t get a grasp on ‘how’ to do it. I think you’ve inspired a salad today. 🙂

  15. Blythe says:

    I’m so glad you’ve brought this issue to light. I work hard to fight off the obesity that runs on my mother’s side of the family. Eating healthy is a learned habit that I have committed to, unfortunately moreso than my on and off relationship with running. However, I think the secret is to eat A LOT of low calorie foods. People comment that I “eat a lot” but what they don’t get is that you get the same feeling by filling up on low calorie foods…instead of the minimalistic diets I see them on while starving themselves of the feeling of being full. If you are like me and your body craves feeling full, why NOT have a humongous salad the size of a salad serving bowl? Yes, I really do make and eat salads that big for myself for dinner. And sometimes a snack afterwards. But it’s the staring at so much food that convinces my brain I’m eating “a lot” even though it’s all lettuce proteins and veggies. Keep up the good work!!

  16. Mary says:

    This is an excellent example of how messed up eating and nutrition is in our country. We need to spread the word that LOTS of fruit and veggies is the way to go.

  17. Huge salads are the best way to give yourself more bang for your buck when it comes to amount of food. I’m a classic over eater so they are the perfect solution for me. That salad looks delicious.