If you’re anything like us, you often sit down for lunch to enjoy your sandwich or salad, then an hour rolls by and just like that, you’re hungry again and looking for snacks! But wait, it doesn’t have to be this way! Different foods affect fullness differently. If you know which foods are more filling, you can help ward off hunger and avoid that 2 pm snack break. In this article, we’ll cover what characteristics to look for in healthy, filling foods, some of our favourite fill-you-up foods, and the importance of mindful eating to ensure you stay fuller — for longer!
First things first, what makes food more filling? Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of fullness that happens after eating. Filling food generally have the following characteristics:
- High in protein: Eating the right amount of protein in your diet is important. Protein helps build muscle, and provides energy and eating enough is essential to keeping your body running smoothly!
- High in fibre: We talk a lot about fibre and the benefits of “fibering up!” Famously known for improving regularity, foods high in fibre tend to be “less dense” which means they provide fewer calories but offer the same volume of food and tend to make you fuller for longer. Fibre helps reduce the likelihood of overeating and gaining weight.
- High in volume: Some foods contain a lot of water or air, which may help with satiety.
- Low in energy density: This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with a low energy density can fill you up as they typically contain a lot of water and fibre.
Further to the above, Health Canada recommends eating whole, unprocessed foods. Highly processed foods are readily available and increase your intake of sodium, sugars or saturated fat. If you think of processed foods such as chocolate and candies, fast foods, frozen entrees like pasta dishes, and bakery products like muffins and cakes, these types of foods are also generally less filling then those whole, unprocessed foods.
Some of our favourite fill-you-up unprocessed foods that are not always top of mind include:
- Eggs: For breakfast, swap out the cereal for a three-egg and veggie omelette, or if you are on the go – hard boil a few eggs to eat with a dash of salt and pepper. One large egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, and 6 grams of protein! This type of breakfast will keep you fuller longer and keep you from having to snack between breakfast and lunch.
- Lentils: Lentils are an inexpensive way to get a significant amount of protein and fibre! A cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein, more than one-third of your recommended daily iron intake and 15 grams of fibre! This makes it a great choice when trying to eat more plant-based proteins. Lentils are great in soups, in dips, or salads. Try blending cooked or canned lentils with some seasonings such as lemon juice, cumin, garlic, sun-dried tomato – for an easy dip recipe.
- Almonds: Almonds are a very popular tree nut and are known to be a “good fat”, but they also contain protein! One quarter-cup serving of whole almonds (about 23 almonds) has 6 grams of protein, along with iron and calcium. Instead of snacking on those tasty treats in the office, have a bag of unsalted almonds ready at your desk and eat a handful of them to satisfy your hunger! Or save them for dinner time and sprinkle a few on top of your favourite salad or casserole for some added texture.
- Edamame: The green soybean that most only order for sushi night. These beans make for a delicious snack and are PACKED with fibre. Just one cup contains 11 grams of fibre, 18 grams of protein, as well as iron and calcium. You can pick these up in the frozen section of the grocery store and microwave them for a few minutes. Top them with your favourite hot sauce or chili powder for a spicy snack, or eat them on their own!
For those busy bees who are always on the go, making sure you get enough protein from things like beef and poultry can be tough. That’s why we suggest packing a protein shaker and making your protein shake with just a scoop of protein and water! Or, if you want to try a nutritional drink, the Ensure® Protein Max drink is a 350-calorie nutritional drink with 20 grams of protein. They come in delicious vanilla and chocolate flavours.
Be mindful of your eating habits
One last point we want to mention is you may think you are still hungry or not “full enough” after having your lunch, but the truth is there are many things that can influence when you feel hungry such as stress, fatigue and boredom. This often happens when you are working on a stressful project at work, or you’re having a slow day, and even though you just had a super satisfying lunch, you want to go ahead and grab those snacks. So, it’s super important that you truly recognize when you are hungry and full.
Health Canada recommends using these ideas:
- Be mindful and ask yourself if you are really hungry.
- Be aware that emotional eating can influence your food and eating choices.
- Pay attention to feelings of fullness to help you know when you have enough food to eat. This means giving your body time to digest and feel full before deciding to have seconds.
- Notice your eating environments and remember that you may be eating because food is available, not because you are hungry.