Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Is pizza healthier if you eat a salad with it?

That is quite a question; if you were to eat a slice of pizza that substitutes a salad on top instead of cheese then yes. If you were to eat a traditional slice of pizza with cheese, and a salad on the side, the answer would most likely be no.

This phenomenon has a name; it is called “negative calorie illusion.”

The research on this topic suggests that people perceive the calorie content of high-calorie foods to be much less when those foods are consumed with a healthy side such as celery sticks or salad.  Calories when estimated by people are based on their perception, which does not necessarily include knowledge of the actual calorie content of the foods. 

Decreasing calories is a significant factor in successful weight reduction and the goal is for people to learn how to eat healthier by actually decreasing calories that are consumed. This topic presents a problem most often in the supermarket.  

Why is this important?

Packaged products in the supermarket are presented in a way to influence people to purchase them. An example of this is a cereal box. For example, the front of the box may show a picture of cereal with fresh fruit, maybe blueberries or sliced strawberries. It is being marketed to make consumers think the cereal is healthy because it is being consumed with fresh fruit.

If cereal is a choice of a convenience because it is quick, is then washing and putting fruit on top still convenient? It is probably not. So the point here is that improving health and losing weight need to be done by changing the way you think about food. Instead of thinking a high-fat, high-calorie food is healthy if you add a vegetable on the side, focus on the vegetable or fruit as the main, more important part of the meal and the result achieved is healthier eating.

Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which require the human body to actually burn calories to digest them. That is why everyone should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. Let me provide some suggestions:

Cut-up veggies in a Ziploc bag make a great snack.

Grill some fruit like peaches, melon or pineapple for a fantastic dessert.

Make a smoothie with some kale or spinach to boost your vitamins.

Roast, steam or boil vegetables for the base of your meals.

Add calorie-free extras when cooking to improve the taste of food, such as zest of citrus fruits, fresh herbs, minced garlic or sliced fresh ginger.

It’s easier than you would think. All of us eat by looking at and smelling our food first. If you were eating pizza that smelled like rotten chicken you probably wouldn’t eat it. The solution is to cook high-fiber, low-calorie foods in ways that look and smell delicious. So try to make a soup full of veggies using fresh herbs, make an omelet with the leftover veggies in the fridge or roast an ordinary vegetable like cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and spices—the aroma will be fantastic. Get lost in the vegetable aisle at the supermarket and always try something that looks interesting and colorful.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

(Cheesy, saucy and delicious but full of nutrients and fiber)


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 large jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups, 2-4% whipped cottage cheese
  • 3-4 Tbsps. chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a piece of parchment paper on top of a rimmed cookie sheet.

Slice spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds with a spoon, and place skin side up; bake for approximately 45 minutes until soft.

Spray a Pyrex-type dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Use a fork to scrape the stringy spaghetti squash into a bowl.

Place ½ squash in the prepared dish, on top place ½ the sauce, then ½ the cottage cheese.

Top with ½ the parmesan cheese

Repeat layers with the remaining ½ of ingredients, top with basil.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

By Jamie Feit


 Jamie Feit, MS, RD,  received her bachelor of business administration degree from The George Washington University and her master’s of science degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. She completed her dietetic internship in affiliation with Mount Sinai Medical Center. In addition to her work with Jamie Feit Nutrition, LLC, Jamie provides coverage at Blythedale Children’s Hospital and works part time at Westmed Medical Group. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 914-304-4008.

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