BNF's 'feed yourself fuller' chart, is designed to give you an idea of the energy density of a variety of foods and dishes.
Energy density - the calories per gram of food, is really important in determining how full you feel after eating. For the same number of calories, lower energy density foods have been shown to make people feel fuller. Also, people on a lower energy density diet have been found to lose more weight than on a standard low fat diet, without feeling hungrier, or restricting the total amount food they ate.
To eat a low energy density diet, you need to eat lots of low energy density foods, but this doesn’t mean you can’t eat foods with a high energy density, you just have to keep the portion sizes small, or eat these foods less often. In the chart you can see some of the ways you can reduce the energy density of your diet; you could have a baked potato instead of fried chips, add more vegetables to your spaghetti Bolognese and swap strawberries and cream, for mixed berries and low fat yoghurt. If you feel like chocolate, you could try a chocolate mousse instead of a chocolate bar. Also, combining very low and medium energy density foods in a meal, makes it low in energy density overall, so opt for plenty of salad and vegetables alongside medium energy density foods like fish, meat or pizza and try having soup as a starter.
Below we’ve got some advice for each of the categories in the chart:
Very low energy density foods – go for it! You can eat big portions of these foods and use them to bulk out meals.
Low energy density foods – these foods make up most of what we eat and you can eat satisfying portions.
Medium energy density foods – these can be included in the diet, and it’s especially important to eat oily fish like salmon, and to include lean sources of protein like steak, but you need to control the portion sizes of these foods and eat them alongside lots of lower energy density foods.
High energy density foods – these can be included in the diet, but in small portions or eaten less frequently. You can also try swapping them for lower energy density alternatives some of the time, for example, use a reduced fat spread instead of butter or margarine, try baked instead of standard crisps or a low-fat soft cheese instead of hard cheese.
The feed yourself fuller chart can be downloaded below.
Last reviewed July 2009. Next review due June 2013.