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energy density

Opt for Winning Foods!

Andréanne Tremblay-Lebeau

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Healthy eating:

Registered Dietitian

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Have you ever heard of the phrase “energy density”? It may sound a little complex, but I can assure you it’s quite a simple concept. Now, let’s see how we can combine the pleasures of the table and healthy eating, keeping in mind the energy density of food.

The energy density of an item of food refers to the amount of calories it contains for its weight (calories [kcal] divided by weight in grams). For example, let’s compare Greek yogurt and raisins. A 100 g serving of Greek yogurt contains 90 kcal, giving us an energy density of 0.9, which is low. A 100 g serving of raisins contains 299 kcal, giving us an energy density of 2.99, which is average.

Why choose foods with a low energy density? Because they let you eat a larger serving for the same amount of calories, which will help make you feel fuller. Water is a major component of certain foods and it helps lower energy density. Eating foods with a high water content as a starter, like soup, raw veggies or a vegetable salad, will help you cut down the size of your main course. Eating guilt-free IS possible! It’s all about opting for low or very low density foods at mealtime and as snacks.

Ranking energy density

  • Very low: 0 to 0.59 kcal/g
  • Low: 0.6 to 1.49 kcal/g
  • Average: 1.5 to 3.99 kcal/g
  • High: 4 to 8.99 kcal/g

Here are a few practical tips for lowering the energy density of your foods and meals:

  •  replace mayonnaise in coleslaw or macaroni salad with plain Greek yogurt
  • add fresh fruit to your breakfasts and desserts
  •  add your grapes to your sandwich garnishes
  • add tons of vegetables to your stir-fries, pasta salads, stews, etc.

Eating with energy density in mind will pay off for your waist, taste buds, eyes and belly! This concept allows you to satisfy your hunger by filling your plate with tasty, colourful food options while promoting good health and helping you to avoid excesses. Who said you had to deprive yourself of good things in life?

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