When trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle one of the most useful techniques is to stay fuller for longer throughout your day. By eating a meal that is satisfying and filling is key to a healthier body. When we are hungry it is easy to reach for those sugar/carb loving foods that contain empty calories and have us reaching for more food before we know it. Here are six tips that can help you feel fuller for longer.
1. Eat Protein With Every Meal
Proteins are macronutrients that are needed to build muscle mass. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. Digestion breaks down the protein unlocking the amino acids so the body can use them to repair and renew the body's cells.
Protein is commonly found in animal products, such as eggs, meat, chicken, dairy, etc, but it is also present in other plant-based sources such as nuts, beans, and lentils.
Protein also helps us to feel fuller for longer and slows down the digestion of carbohydrates. This helps to control cravings from carbohydrates and sugar. Which in turn helps with weight issues and prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and mood issues.
A variation of protein is helpful to ensure you get a variety of the different amino acids. There are 20 different amino acid, types 9 of these are essential, which means we need to get them from our food and our body cannot simulate them. The more variety of proteins we eat the more likely we will get what we need.
Poorly digested protein can cause havoc with our gut. It leads to smelly flatulence, bloating and discomfort. To alleviate this ensure you chew protein well, in a relaxed atmosphere. This will help to stimulate stomach secretions which are required to break down the protein so that it is easily absorbed by the digestive system.
2. Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
Eat a variety of fruit and veg every day. Look to eat at least 7-a-day (2 fruit and 5 vegetables). Go slow though if you have gut issues as this could make current symptoms worse. This isn't because you are getting worse, it’s because you are changing the ecology of your gut which initially produces symptoms. However, you should find that these will ease over time as you persevere.
Fruit and vegetables are nutrient dense and provide the body with an array of vitamin and minerals that our body needs. If we eat lots of food that are deplete in nutrients we will find ourselves getting hungry quickly. This is because our we are eating empty calories and no nutrients. Our body becomes hungry when we need nutrients that help our body to function. All we do then is crave more and more foods as our body tried desperately to find the nutrients that it needs.
3. Drink More Water Throughout the Day
It is recommended that our water intake should be between 1.5l to 2l per day. Hydration is important for cognitive health and gut health. If we are dehydrated, we can mistake that for hunger and end up eating the wrong foods. If you suspect dehydration hunger simply have a glass of water, wait 20 minutes then if you are still hungry then eat something.
Drinking enough can be hard to accomplish so here are some tips.
Carry a water bottle around or place a large jug of water on you desk.
Add fruit or herbs to your water to add variety.
Make a point of topping up at certain points of the day, like when you go to the toilet, lunch and break times.
4. Eating Protein Snacks
The temptation when grabbing a snack is to go for one that elevates our blood sugar quickly. This gives us the hot we need at the time to satisfy our hunger but it’s short lived and before long we are hungry all too soon. Replace the biscuits, crisps, chocolate, or cakes with a snack that contains protein. Nut and seeds are a great substit
ute and if you are really craving something sweet combine them with a couple of pieces of dark chocolate. Knowing when you have sugar cravings is helpful so that you can be prepared. A little protein rich snack ready to eat before the sugar craving will help no end to prevent you reaching for the biscuit tin.
5. Eat More Fibre
Dietary fibre is found in plant-based foods and cannot be digested by the human enzymes that are produced during digestion. They reach the large intestines virtually intact where they are fermented by the gut bacteria or used to bulk our stools. The most beneficial fibre that can be used by the gut bacteria is prebiotics.
White food has little to no fibre. This means we are eating empty calories and that means we need to eat more of these foods to stay full. When we eat wholemeal or brown foods we get the fibre too. We then eat less and the fibre bulks out in the tummy and takes longer to digest. This leaves us feeling fuller for longer. Fibre is also found in much of the fruit and vegetables we eat.
The government recommendation is that we eat about 30g per day of fibre, however the average person in the UK has an intake of about 18g. Even small increments of fibre per day can make a difference to health.
6. Eat More Healthy Fat
It is important for you to consume healthy fats. Healthy fats slow down di
gestion and keep you fuller for longer. They also provide essential fatty acids that the body can't make itself. These fats make up 90% of our brain, as well as being the main
component of healthy cell membranes in every cell in our body. You should try to include the following healthy fats:
nuts and seeds,
grass fed butter*,
unrefined extra virgin olive oil and
* Limit your grass fed butter and coconut oil to 7g per day.
Trying to make big changes in your diet is often overwhelming and when you think you have failed it becomes difficult to get up and start again. Marie recommends taking small steps to making good habits around food. Yes it takes longer but it’s more sustainable. So go carefully and change one thing at a time.
Marie Jarvis is a BANT registered nutritionist ®, who specialises in gut health and women’s health.