Eat your water

“Eat your water.”  Sounds strange, but it turns out to be very good advice for people who are trying to cut calories, lose weight and build a healthier diet.  I can’t take credit for the phrase, as it’s been used by many other nutrition experts.   So what exactly does this mean?  Eating water with a spoon?

It means eating lots of foods with high water content, particularly vegetables, fruits and legumes.  Foods with high natural water content are bulky.  They fill you up with fewer calories, so you end up eating less overall.  Not to mention all those vegetables and fruits are healthier than low water foods like chips, cookies and candy.  A stomach full of apples and broccoli is vastly lower in calories than a stomach filled with cookies or doughnuts.

One thing “eat your water” doesn’t necessarily mean is that beverages are a good way to fill up.  Plain water maybe, but soft drinks an alcoholic beverages don’t count.  Does milk count?  Maybe.  It’s practically a liquid food, since it has so many nutrients.  Yoghurt is similarly high water content.

Cheese, nuts, meats, fish, healthy fats, breads, cereals and cooked grains are all fine, although they have lower water content and won’t fill you up as well on their own.  A good strategy is to include high water content foods with all your meals, so you fill up fast.  Example: instead of gorging on 4-5 pieces of pizza, have 2 pieces of vegetable-loaded pizza and a big salad.

Isn’t this about fiber?  Not necessarily.  Those high water content foods do tend to be high fiber, but the water helps make you feel full.  Imagine just eating dry raisin bran cereal.  You could eat a whole lot of that until you feel full.  It would be a lot of fiber, but almost no water, so you could easily over eat it.  Think of those foods as “dry fiber”.  You should definitely consume those with adequate fluid, such as milk on the cereal, so the fiber starts to soak up the liquid and expand into a high water content food.  Another example: dry oats compared to cooked oats.  And a third example: raisins (dried grapes) compared to fresh grapes, which are high in water.  You can fill up on less calories with fresh grapes than on raisins.

Summer is a great time to “eat your water” – lovely fresh produce is available to make it enjoyable.  Cantaloupe melons, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and other fresh fruits and vegetables are all in season and full of flavor.

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