Appetite control is a major concern for weight-conscious individuals. Excess hunger can have you reaching for foods dense in calories, but not nessarily in nutrients. These are the foods that are easy to overeat. Whole foods are valuable sources of fiber, healthy fats and protein -- three nutrients that promote post-meal satisfaction. The more you eat natural, healthy foods, the less pleasurable processed fare becomes, says registered dietitian and food consultant Jeannie Houchins, MA, RD. Before making significant dietary changes, seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain valuable amounts of water and fiber, both of which contribute no calories and curb excess hunger. You were born with a desire for sweet flavor, says Houchins. Fruits and vegetables can help fulfill those cravings. Particularly sweet and filling varieties include berries, oranges, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. For a healthy dessert, top baked apple or pear slices with cinnamon, or choose an all-fruit frozen bar instead of a sugary popsicle or ice cream.
Seasoned Whole Grains
In a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in November 2010, researchers analyzed the eating habits and abdominal fat in 2,834 adults, roughly half of whom were women. Participants who ate diets rich in whole grains showed stronger appetite control and had less visceral abdominal fat compared to refined grain-eaters. For potentially similar benefits, replace refined foods, such as white breads and rice, with whole grain equivalents. To add flavor, top whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and season brown rice with garlic and a touch of olive oil. Season air-popped popcorn with Italian spices and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and top oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and a touch of honey or pure maple syrup. Quinoa makes for a hearty addition to scrambled eggs.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Low-fat dairy products, such as cottage cheese, yogurt and low-fat milk, add calcium, vitamin D and protein to your diet. For a healthy, filling dessert, prepare a crustless cheesecake with low-fat milk and cottage cheese, instead of whole milk and high-fat cream cheese. For a filling alternative to juices, which tend to be high in sugar and low in fiber, make a smoothie containing low-fat milk or yogurt, fresh or frozen fruits and chopped kale, if desired. Incorporate a banana for added sweetness and creaminess. Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein than regular yogurt, is a filling snack or dessert option. To avoid added sugars, choose yogurt without added sweeteners, or top plain yogurt with fresh fruit.
Marinated Fish and Lean Poultry
Fish and lean poultry, such as skinless chicken breasts, are prime protein sources, minus the unhealthy fat and cholesterol that is prevalent in fatty meats. Healthy marinade ingredients, such as fresh fruits and juices, garlic and low-sodium teriyaki sauce, bolster the flavor of these filling foods. To prevent undesirable hunger pangs afterward, David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, who is the director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, recommends simplifying your diet. Rather than pairing glazed salmon with several side dishes and dessert, for example, have glazed salmon with salad, and fruit for dessert. The more complex and laden with sugar, salt and calories you make your meals, the more habitual rich meals become. Other simple, flavorful options include grilled chicken and leafy greens served in a whole grain pita pocket, low-fat tuna salad served in romaine lettuce leaves or a whole grain tortilla and brown rice sushi rolls.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com