We’ve been there. We’re watching TV and one Dorito becomes two Doritos becomes, well, an awkward amount of Doritos (and an awkward amount of calories). So, no. We can’t—or, rather, we shouldn’t—eat 100 Doritos. That said, there are foods that are okay to consume as much of as we want. These (mostly green) foods are: asparagus; celery; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower; cucumber; spinach and tomatoes. And that’s because each of these are under 40 calories per 100 grams.
Chelsea Baptiste of Wellness by Chelsea explains, “You have probably heard the phrase ‘negative calorie’ food before, which is essentially the theory that you expend more calories eating, digesting and eliminating than the amount of calories that the food actually delivers to the body. While this concept is debated and can be a little misleading based on the name alone, it is often used as a way to emphasize the low-calorie nature of some foods. Ultimately, it would be better to label these foods in this category as ‘low-calorie’ foods.”
The asparagine, an amino acid, in asparagus is a diuretic, which means it can “wash” the system of excess salt, water, etc. Eat asparagus, which has 20 calories per 100 grams, and ease bloat. But remember to pinch your nose when you pee. Baptiste explains, “Asparagus is a powerhouse food that is a great source of fiber and vitamin B.”
These stalks packs a crunch. Celery is rumored to be “negative-calorie” (see above): there are 16 calories per 100 grams of celery. Wow. But, be warned: The number of calories can increase with the addition of peanut butter.
Baptise explains, “Celery acts as an anti-inflammatory. Celery is a water-rich food, hence why eating it in great quantities is okay for the waistline. Purée it into a soup or make into a juice if eating the stalk is not appealing to you.”
These veggies are close to calorie-free. Here are the numbers: 34 calories per 100 grams of broccoli; 38 calories per 100 grams of Brussels sprouts; and 25 calories per 100 grams of cauliflower. Plus, these foods are fiber-filled, which means a win-win for the digestive system.
Baptiste explains: “Calorically speaking, these have very low calorie counts. Cauliflower, especially, is a non-starchy vegetable that can be eaten in great quantities—plus, it can work as the perfect substitute for mashed potatoes! To create, steam cauliflower and then place in a blender with sea salt, garlic and a dash of almond milk.”
Cucumbers are spa in a snack. Because, hydration. But the difference between cucumbers and water is that cucumbers, which have 16 calories per 100 grams, feature a number of nutrients: B vitamins as well as vitamin C and vitamin K.
Baptiste explains: “Cucumbers are a water-rich food that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits because of their beta-carotene and vitamin C. Weighing in at 16 calories per cup, they’re a great snack option to load up on.”
Follow Popeye’s direction and eat as much as possible. Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world—without the calories. It has 23 calories per 100 grams. Spinach also has an awesome amount of calcium (9 percent of DV), iron (15 percent of DV), and protein (5 percent of DV), all nutrients that are rare in veggies.
Baptiste explains: “There are approximately 7 calories and one gram of carbs in a cup of spinach. The list of benefits from spinach goes on and on: fiber, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Filling up on spinach is a great way to add volume to a meal without having to worry about calories.”
Tomatoes, the one “fruit” in the bunch, are another low-calorie food. These red orbs, which have 18 calories per 100 grams, are rich with antioxidants. And they feature the “beautifying” nutrient, Biotin, which is famous for its benefits for hair, nails, etc.
Outside of these foods, we need to understand portions. Because “everything in moderation” is about understanding what “moderation” is.
Baptiste explains: “Measuring and weighing matters! Let measuring cups become your friend. Estimating a portion that you are unfamiliar with is a surefire way to pack on extra calories unknowingly. But, if you are on the go and don’t have access to measuring or weighing, a good rule of thumb is to become familiar with using hand symbols for portions. Here are two common ones: the serving size for meat (three ounces) is the size of your palm and a tablespoon (for peanut butter, etc.) is the size of your thumb.”
She continues, “Restaurants are notorious for serving mega portions. The solution? Fill up on veggies first. Then, eat slowly and check back in at the halfway point, giving your body a chance to send you signals that your full. Bring the rest home and enjoy for another meal.”