What was the best meal you ate recently? If I had to guess, it tasted good. Perhaps it was an old-favorite, a home-cooked meal, or maybe it was something completely new. Maybe you were able to share it with friends (even if it was over Zoom!).
My guess is that your best meal was also satisfying. It met your hunger needs and kept you full. THAT is one of my best tips for healthy eating: eat wholesome, nutritious foods that satisfy your hunger. Why is that so important? Because when we eat good foods that fill us up, we have more energy, better focus, and greater strength to fight off those between-meal cravings! In light of this, I wanted to share some of my favorite go to foods that are both nutritious and filling. I recommend you make them a part of your regular diet.
But first, a little information about two very important hormones that regulate appetite: the leptin and ghrelin hormones.
The leptin hormone is considered the ‘satiety’ hormone because it makes you feel full and reduces appetite. It signals the hypothalamus, the portion of your brain that regulates appetite and food intake.
The ghrelin hormone is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas, and brain. Ghrelin has numerous functions. Called the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates appetite, ghrelin increases food intake, and promotes fat storage.
It’s important that these hormones are in balance so you can be, too!
High fiber foods fill your stomach and balance your hunger hormones. Adding protein and adding healthy fats to your meals will help you feel more satisfied by improving leptin sensitivity as well as.
So, let’s look at some foods that help keep these hormones functioning properly while satisfying our appetites.
- Salmon – There are a lot of proteins and essential omega-3 fatty acids in red fish. Such a combination of nutrients allows you to feel satisfied for a long time.
- Eggs – Eggs are an inexpensive and nutritious source of protein. Choose organic when possible.
- Lentils – Lentils contain a lot of folic acid, iron, potassium, thiamine, and manganese. They are also rich in protein and fiber and are very affordable!
- Avocado – Not only are avocados an excellent source of essential fatty acids, but the oleic acid contained in avocados prolongs your sense of satiety which can translate to fewer calories consumed later in the day.
- Coconut oil – What makes coconut oil different from other oils is the fact that it contains medium-chain fatty acids. Try replacing an oil that you normally use for dinner with refined, flavorless coconut oil or unrefined coconut oil for a tropical taste.
- Chia Seeds – Chia seeds can absorb water 11-12 times exceeding the seed’s mass. It helps fill up the stomach and provides a sense of fullness.
- Oatmeal – Whole oats (not instant) contain a lot of fiber. Studies have shown that people who eat oatmeal for breakfast feel less hungry afterward and consumed 31% less calories at lunch than those who didn’t start their day with oatmeal.
- Ginger – Ginger can increase the feeling of fullness, possibly by stimulating digestion.
- Spinach – Spinach contains plenty of thylakoids which increase the leptin levels. This compound regulates the exchange of energy and helps curb hunger pangs.
- Dark Chocolate – 70% cocoa or more – eating a bit of dark chocolate before or after meals triggers hormones that signal satisfaction in the brain. Of course, eating more than the recommended amount per day (about 1 ounce per day) can counteract benefits.
Also, drink plenty of water. Drinking water helps reduce the risk of mistaking thirst signals for hunger signals. The next time you feel a bit hungry, but might not be ready for a meal, try drinking a glass of water first.
While there are no shortcuts to healthy eating, choosing nutrient dense and fiber-filled foods like the ones listed above are a great place to start!
Thank you for taking the time to learn some easy to incorporate suggestions for healthier and more satisfying eating! I’d love to journey with you toward better health. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation.