Hunger is an unpleasant thing to experience/ In fact, it can be even downright embarrassing when your tummy grumbles for your attention at the most inappropriate times. When you’re watching your calorie intake to lose or manage your weight, there will be days when you might experience ongoing hunger, even when you’re eating at the top of your calorie range; it is just how it will be sometimes, but there are ways to handle this. Some days you will feel like it isn’t worth it, and you will want to give up, but not so fast. Don’t give up on your new way of eating until you add what could be the missing ingredient back into your eating and weight loss program. What’s the elusive “secret” to feeling fuller, longer? Satiety.
Satiety is that pleasant feeling of satisfaction that you get when you’re no longer hungry, but aren’t overly stuffed or uncomfortable. You are just satisfied beyond desire. The more satisfied you feel after a meal, the less you’ll eat later. So how do you increase satiety without eating more food?
Here are some ideas that can help you feel fuller
Eat More Low-Density Foods
Calorie density refers to the number of calories per gram of food. Foods that are high in calorie density contain a high number of calories per gram; foods that are low in calorie density contain a low number of calories per gram. Calorie density is the key to feeling full without overeating. When you eat too many calorie dense foods, you’ll end up consuming a lot of calories to fill your belly. If you focus on low-calorie density foods, you can fill up on fewer calories because low-density foods contain a lot more water, which adds weight and volume to the food, but no calories.
Just drinking a glass of water along with the meal does not offer the same degree of satiety. Research has shown that to cut hunger and boost fullness, water has to be in the food. Why? Because there are separate mechanisms installed in the brain to control hunger and thirst. If the food you eat has water, it will stay in the stomach longer while the food is being digested. Apart from that, there is also the psychological part of eating food versus drinking water. When you eat food, even water-rich food, you get more sensory stimulation because you have more food going through your mouth and you’re eating for a longer period of time, both of which help you feel more satisfied with your meal in the long run.
The following are all water-rich food choices with about 90% bound water. They can have a great impact on the calorie density of your diet.
What to Eat
EAT MORE broth-based soups like chicken noodle or vegetable. Be sure to look for soups that have less than 200 calories per 1 cup serving.
EAT MORE leafy greens like lettuce, baby spinach and mixed salad greens with fat-free dressing.
EAT MORE fruits like apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, strawberries, and watermelon.
EAT MORE non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and winter squash.
TIP: Start your meal with a bowl of broth-based soup or low-calorie leafy green salad to fill up on fewer calories. Turn to non-starchy vegetables when you feel like you need to eat something immediately.
Fill Up on Fiber
Fiber contains only 1.5 to 2.5 calories per gram, while other carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. Fiber-rich foods also need more chewing and slow the passage of food through the digestive tract. The fiber in carbohydrates helps prevent those peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels that can cause cravings and poor food choices. They also may stimulate a satiety hormone in the brain.
EAT MORE fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with skins, beans, lentils, and legumes. Aim for 25-35 grams each day to help reduce your calorie intake and increase your satiety level.
TIP: Avoid refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice, white pasta and sugar). When eaten alone, refined and simple carbohydrates can wreak havoc on satiety by causing rises and falls in blood sugar which triggers hunger every few hours.
I cannot say enough good things about protein, even studies suggest that protein appears to help prolong satiety more than carbohydrates or fat can. Meeting your protein needs is important, but eating more protein than your body needs will NOT boost your metabolism, instead it will do the opposite, so be warned.
EAT MORE lean protein from meats, chicken, seafood, low-fat dairy, legumes, lentils and soy products.
TIP: Prepare your meat using low-fat cooking methods like grilling and baking. This will help to keep the nutrients.
Fit in the Fat
Cutting fat intake reduces the calorie density of a food. In other words, you get a bigger portion of food for the same calories when it has fewer fat grams. However, if you go too low in fat you won’t enjoy the flavor, texture or satiety of your food. Plus dietary fat is essential for staying healthy.
TIP: Eliminate fat where you don’t need it, opting for reduced fat foods instead of full-fat versions. Select low-fat dairy products, low-fat salad dressings, low-fat mayonnaise, etc. and limit saturated and trans fats.
Go Nuts on Nuts
Nuts have been shown to have a very positive impact on satiety because of their protein and fiber content. A SMALL handful of these nutritious nuggets will often hold you over until your next meal. Of course, portion control is important because nuts and seeds are high-density foods.
Choose nuts like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and others. Even seeds make good choices.
TIP: Keep your portions in check! One serving of nuts or seeds is about the size of a golf ball!
Although water is the “plain jane” of drinks, water can help with your weight management program, especially if you are substituting calorie-containing beverages like regular soda, juice and sweetened coffee for water, which is healthy and calorie-free. For some people, drinking water throughout the day also keeps their hands busy so that they’re less likely to eat out of habit or boredom.
DRINK MORE water throughout the day, aiming for about 8 cups total. Some calorie-free beverages can make good choices, but moderation is important. Check out these beverage guidelines to meet your body’s needs.
TIP: Don’t drink your calories. Calories from beverages add up quickly and negatively affect your weight. Most people don’t pay attention to the number of calories they drink, and that can hurt your weight loss efforts. Limit your intake of caloric beverages to less than 200 calories each day, and be sure to add these calories to your Nutrition Tracker.
Make It Work
Now that you know which foods have the staying power, it is important to spread these satisfying foods throughout the day into designated meals and snacks. Then you’ll be reaping the benefits all day long.
Even better, slow down and savor every bite. Research has shown that it can take 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you have reached satiety. So take your time and enjoy every delicious bite along the way, and don’t rush. The most common mistake that people make is rushing down their food when they are eating. This can actually cause you weight gain as opposed to keeping you healthy, so bear that in mind.
Be selective about the foods that you eat and what measure you need to eat them in. It will help you along the way to a healthier you.