When trying to eliminate animal products from the diet, a person can easily get overwhelmed in no time. Just the thought of going without traditional foods or even having to change their grocery routine is more than a little bit scary. The good news is, leaving animal foods off your plate whenever you can won’t only save you money at the store (if you choose whole foods) but will also make you feel lighter, decrease your risks of several major health issues, and even satisfy your appetite better.
You may be surprised to find just how much a plant-based diet can satisfy your hunger. Many people report having lower blood sugar swings (thanks to the reduction of certain insulin-producing properties in some animal-based foods), along with being less hungry overall. But just ditching animal foods and eating vegan or vegetarian won’t cut it; there are lots of ways you can find yourself hungry on a plant-based diet if you don’t follow some simple guidelines.
If you’ve ever heard someone say that they just weren’t satisfied without meat, then quite possibly, it’s time to ask them what they were eating. It’s easy to never feel satisfied if we eat too many processed foods, shortchange our bodies of the calories they need, or eat a diet that’s too low in fat, protein, and whole-food-based vitamins, minerals, and sources of fiber.
To prevent yourself from being hungry so you can stay satisfied on a plant-based diet (whether that’s full or part-time), use these simple tools below.
1. Start With Real Food
Real foods on a plant-based diet include vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, non-refined (whole) grains, pseudo-grains, legumes, and fruits. These foods keep the body satisfied on a cellular level, greater than any processed food out there. They’re packed with different nutrients, each one containing minerals like magnesium and chromium that reduce blood sugar levels, along with special amino acids the body can use to reduce hunger signals in the body. Healthy fats from real, whole foods also increase satiety in the brain and on a cellular level.
Here are some tips you can use to transition to a whole-food diet and why it matters more than most people realize. Another great way to make sure that you’re getting plenty of whole plant-based foods is through the Food Monster App, a Food app available for both Android and iPhone. You can search by ingredient categories like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and more, so you can always find recipes using your favorite veggies (or get inspired to try ingredients you never thought to use)!
2. Limit Salt and Oil
Salt and oil are not evil. However, too much salt can cause your body to want to eat more than it is really hungry for. Salt ignites the taste buds, which is great for flavoring our dishes, but we should learn to adapt to the taste of foods just as they are without shaking salt in, or on top of, all our dishes. High salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure and can lead to overeating unhealthy foods quite easily, never leaving us satisfied.
Oil is also fine to cook with on occasion, but it isn’t whole food either. Oil also doesn’t keep us full, nor does it provide the body with much nutrition. It can also lead to digestive strain for some, which may still leave the body craving real, nutrient-dense food after a meal. If you use oil, choose olive or coconut oil, and use a small amount each day, or use whole olives and coconut butter (or just real coconut meat) instead. Instead of excess salt, use herbs and spices, and be sure to choose real salt (or pink salt) when you do use salt versus refined and iodized salts at the store.
3. Fill Up on Plant-Based Proteins
Fruits and vegetables are important, but as wonderful as they are, we can not live off them alone. We need high-quality sources of plant-based proteins to thrive. If you’re avoiding foods such as seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes, you will likely never feel satisfied. While beans may not work for us all, and others may be allergic to nuts, choosing one of these foods for a protein source is important. You can either use them in whole-food form or buy raw or organic protein powders made from these foods to give your body the protein that it needs. You don’t need a lot of protein each day, but you do need some. Protein signals satiety messages to the brain, nourishes the cells, and benefits metabolism and brain function. If you enjoy tofu and tempeh, those are also popular protein options you can eat too. See how to get enough protein without soy, gluten, or dairy here, and see 5 Soy-Free Vegan Foods That Have More Protein Than Beef here if you don’t like tofu or tempeh. We also have a Plant-Based Guide to Protein you can check out too for even more ideas.
4. Be Prepared
Just winging our meals through the day will leave anyone hungry in a hurry! When blood sugar levels drop, it leaves a person more prone to grab something in a hurry to steady insulin levels in the body. It’s important to be prepared on a plant-based diet by having some go-to, quick, and healthy meals you can eat regularly, along with preparing yourself for a day at the office where you’ll need to be sure to have some healthy options on hand. Keep whole foods like fruit, nuts, and seeds in your desk, work bag, or purse, and be sure you have a recipe roll of inexpensive, healthy to-go snacks that are easy to grab and go in just minutes. This will help you stay satisfied and help you take care of your blood sugar too.
5. Eat Meals, Not Just Snacks
It’s easy to just munch throughout the day, but ultimately, this never really satisfies us as meals do. It’s important to sit down and enjoy at least two meals a day and try not to just snack our way through the day to get by. If you can, work three whole meals into your day however possible, make sure to get enough calories from healthy foods, and sneak snacks in between your meals if you find yourself still hungry. Whether you eat grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, raw, or any other type of variation of a plant-based diet, it’s still important to work some well-balanced meals into your day, so your body gets what it needs. See our recipes for ideas for all kinds of delicious plant-based options!
Satisfaction is achieved through adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from whole, plant-based foods. It is that simple. Though we might have to tweak a few things along the way to find the foods that work best for us, using the five tips above will help give our bodies premium nutrition throughout the day at regular intervals.
What tips do you have to stay satisfied with a plant-based diet?
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