Hunger is sometimes a pain! Sure, when you’re ready to sit down and eat a meal, it’s nice for your tummy to be all ready to go and amped up for what’s to come. But sometimes, such as if you just ate an hour ago, or you’re consistently finding yourself hungry at work or during travel, when meals aren’t always feasible and snacks aren’t necessarily doable, then hunger can get in the way and sometimes make you question if what you’re eating is the right choice. Hunger throughout the day isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with a few tweaks added to your meals, you can stay full at least 3-4 hours between meals and some even up to 4-5 depending on the ingredients used.
It’s important to eat regular meals to keep your metabolism stoked and also feed your body the nutrients it craves, so definitely don’t skip meals whatever you do. However, if you feel like you’re always hungry, even after your meals, there are some things you can consider to improve their filling factor.
These tips are also healthy, and don’t include packing your diet out with oil, sugary foods, processed foods, or animal-based foods. Give them a try and let us know if you have any of your own tips as well.
1. Use Whole Food-Based Plant-Based Proteins at Every Meal
Protein is essential to keeping you full as you probably already know. Plant-based proteins are different than animal-based proteins, however. Animal food proteins contribute to diabetes and actually raise blood sugar, despite the myth that they do the opposite. Animal proteins also contribute to cancer and contain a host of bacteria you don’t need in your body to keep you full. Plant-based proteins all help lower blood sugar, so they will help keep you full for a longer amount of time.
The most filling options include beans, legumes, but also easy-to-digest seeds like hemp, pumpkin, and chia, along with almonds as well. Even leafy greens like kale and spinach, and grains like oats, teff, and quinoa are all great options. Be sure your meals includes one or more of these options, and if you enjoy whole-food based soy products like tempeh, tofu, and edamame, those are also good options as well. Add up to 20 grams of protein per meal if the amount you’re using isn’t working for you now. Some people need more protein than others and it’s very effective at staving off hunger while providing your body with key amino acids it needs.
2. Do Not Forget Your Fiber
Fiber isn’t just good for keeping your body all nice and regular and for keeping your heart youthful and clearing those arteries from cholesterol, but it’s also amazing at keeping you full. The carbs made from fiber in foods should never be feared. These carbs are not completely digested by your body, so they help move things along and sweep out the bad stuff. But they also do something else in the process – they keep you full. Those fiber-filled processed foods aren’t the best option either. Your body prefers whole food sources of fiber like grains (even if they’re gluten-free), leafy greens, root vegetables, green vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and beans and legumes if you tolerate them.
For those sensitive to fiber, stick with simple-to-digest foods. For example, go with grains like gluten-free oats and millet or wild rice, and for vegetables, stick to root vegetables and digestive-friendly options like celery, asparagus, and leafy greens. Most fruits are also easy to digest on an empty stomach, and choose hemp protein (rich in fiber), pumpkin seeds, root veggies, and easy-to-digest beans like aduki or legumes like chickpeas over heavy doses of glutinous grains or harder to digest beans and legumes. Aim for at least 8-10 grams of fiber per meal if your current amount isn’t cutting it. Fiber slows down blood sugar and digestion and also stabilizes your hormones at the same time. Here are 30 recipes to choose from if you need new ideas.
3. Check for Sneaky Sugar
We don’t have to tell you sugar is truly bad for you, but we’d like to remind you how often it can creep into your diet without you realizing it. Some vegan protein bars, powders, and even cereals all include refined sugar or an overdose of natural and added sugars. Be sure your food choices don’t have added sugars for ultimate hunger control. No matter how much of a health halo they may carry, they disrupt your blood sugar and can make you think you’re hungry, when really, your glycemic index just has you fooled. Stick to healthy, naturally sweet foods to curb your sweet tooth instead. These all come with added fiber and nutrition that no amount of sugar can bring to your meals.
4. Always Choose Whole Foods First
Most all of us have foods that aren’t exactly made from scratch. The almond or soy milk, the plant-based protein, the vegan cheese products, and for some, just good old condiments. Those items are harmless for the most part and also completely normal, however, when basing your meals, make sure it’s whole-food based. So build the majority of your meal from whole foods, which your body will break down slower and keep you full longer. After this, the small amount of not-so-homemade essentials are small in the grand scheme of things. Here are some tips for transitioning into a whole foods diet if you need some simple tricks and tips.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Add More Healthy Calories to Meals
If you’re in fear of calories, then you’re always going to be hungry. Do you know what calories actually mean? Energy. That’s what calories mean to your body too, not just by definition. Without enough calories, your body is going to tell you it’s hungry. Even if you think you’re eating enough and are following the tips above, for some reason, your body is either telling you that you need more calories or you’re not absorbing the ones you’re eating.
It’s important to take time for meals, since focusing on your meal can affect digestion and the uptake of nutrients. It’s also important to consider all your nutritional needs and eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. Some minerals like magnesium and chromium are found in certain plants, which both keep your blood sugar healthy and are key to a normal appetite. Don’t take appetite suppressants or diet pills- instead, just eat whole foods, and eat enough of them at each meal. So long as you can digest it properly, there’s nothing wrong with a higher calorie, whole foods entree.
You might also consider portable snacks and healthy meals to take to the office with you if that’s a concern. Don’t let hunger rule your day. Outsmart it by literally, eating it away the smart, plant-based way.
Lead Image Source: We Love Costa Rica