Yesterday, I happily unpacked the lunch I’d brown bagged that morning, feeling pretty darn good about my healthy arugula and roasted veg salad. Healthy eating #goals! I devoured it (I’ll admit, while emailing with my non-eating hand) and then thought (a) where did my lunch go, and (b) I’m still starving. Why is it that sometimes a small meal leaves me feeling stuffed, while a big bowl of something else has me hovering near the freezer taking bites of Ben & Jerry’s 30 minutes later? (Please tell me it’s not just me.)
To help in my quest to eat more mindfully this year, I rounded up 10 foods that are scientifically proven to keep you feeling fuller for longer, along with my favorite recipes that include each one. Fill up on these nutrition powerhouses to keep mindless snacking at bay and end meals feeling satisfied and happy.
I try to avoid carb-filled breakfasts since they usually result in a blood sugar crash that makes me want to go to sleep by mid-morning, but oatmeal is my one exception. A bowl of warm oats is such a satisfying way to start the day with fiber, protein, and a high water content that fills up your tummy until lunchtime.
Since I’ve been trying to eat less meat, beans have become an invaluable vegan source of protein and iron in my diet. Plus they’re super high in fiber which leads to that satisfied feeling when they’re added to any meal. Try scooping beans into a salad, soup, or these tostadas that I’m obsessed with:
Chia seeds are magical (and also kinda weird.) Get this: a 1-ounce serving has 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 5 grams of healthy fats. They absorb a high amount of water and actually expand in the stomach when eaten, making you feel full and helping curb appetite.
Apples have that magic combo of fiber and water that keeps you feeling full without consuming lots of calories. Several studies have shown that people who eat an apple 30 minutes before a meal end up eating less in total. Try it in:
Soup should be your new best friend if you’re trying to control your appetite and shed pounds. Healthy, vegetable and broth-based versions take up a lot of room in your stomach with very few calories. In a Penn State study, people who ate a bowl of broth-based soup before their lunch reduced their total calorie intake at the meal by 20 percent.
My own secret weapon for adding heft to a salad when I want to keep it vegan, avocados are that creamy addition that equals satisfaction, thanks to their abundance of good fats. In this study, women who ate half an avocado with their lunch felt 22 percent more satisfied and had a 24 percent lower desire to snack three hours later in the day. Try it in:
Besides being one of the most delicious foods on the planet, eggs are a great protein-packed breakfast ingredient that’ll keep you feeling full until lunch. I’m personally not a fan of eating a big breakfast, but if you find yourself snacking in those mid-morning hours, try upping your protein content and see if you consume less the rest of the day.
Lentils are a super-duper food: just ¼ cup has 3.9 grams of fiber and almost 4.5 grams of protein. This may sound crazy, but I avoid adding an excessive amount of lentils to a curry or soup dish because it makes me feel almost too full 30 minutes after eating. So eat them at your own risk, people.
Broccoli (and Brussels Sprouts and Kale)
If you’re trying to feel satisfied and eat less, these cruciferous powerhouses are where it’s at. A cup of cooked broccoli has over 5 grams of fiber, and the leafy nature of these cruciferous gems requires lots of chewing to break them down – which psychologically makes you feel like you’re eating a lot more than you actually are. That’s my theory, at least.
Almonds are pretty caloric dense, so while they’re super healthy, you don’t want to go crazy on them if you’re trying to drop weight. However, eating a handful as a mid-afternoon snack, or adding some to a salad or your morning oatmeal, is a really smart way to add fat and fiber that’ll regulate blood sugar and fill you up.
Carrots are the easiest, yummiest go-to snack to help curb cravings. I often crunch on them when I need to curb hunger pangs between mealtimes, and thanks to their natural sweetness and high fiber content, they do the trick. Just seven baby carrots has about three grams of fiber.