If undesirable hunger wreaks havoc with your moods, ability to concentrate or eating habits, filling foods can help. Fiber promotes fullness, so consuming enough helps suppress the appetite. Protein also reduces hunger, because of its mellowing impact on blood sugar. Other important factors for appetite control include regular exercise, sufficient sleep, stress management and sufficient calories and nutrients.
For some people, appetite control is the difference between "white" and "whole wheat." Refined grains, such as white rice and flour, lose much of their fiber and protein contents during processing. Registered dietitian Sharon Palmer recommends whole grains over foods fortified with whole-grain fiber, which may not provide equal benefits. Cooked barley provides 6 grams of fiber per cup. One cup of cooked brown or wild rice provides 3 to 3.5 grams. Other satiating options include air-popped popcorn, oats and 100-percent whole-grain breads and cereals.
Fruits and Vegetables
If your hunger pangs and sweets go hand-in-hand, incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet may take the edge off those cravings. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber and water -- both of which contribute no calories. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating fruits and vegetables as a way to fill up on fewer calories. One cup of fresh carrots, which are 88 percent water, contains only 50 calories and provides 2 grams of fiber. Cooked frozen carrots provide nearly 5 grams of fiber per cup. Other fiber and water-rich options include berries, citrus fruits and cooked leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. Avoid juices, which provide less satisfaction and more concentrated amounts of sugar.
Low-Fat Milk and Yogurt
Low-fat milk and yogurt support more than bone health. As valuable sources of protein, they promote blood sugar and appetite control -- without the hefty amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol in high-fat dairy products and meats. To avoid taking in added sugars, which can increase cravings for sweets, choose plain yogurt. An average container of yogurt with added sweeteners contains about 26 grams of sugar, while plain yogurt provides 12 grams of natural sugar. To make breakfast more filling, prepare hot cereals and smoothies with low-fat milk instead of water or juice.
The caloric density of nuts makes some weight-conscious individuals steer clear of them. In fact, nuts promote satiation and weight control, and the body does not absorb all of the calories nuts contain, according to a report published in the "Journal of Nutrition" in September 2008. To minimize between-meal munchies, snack on a small handful of almonds or mixed nuts. Nut butters on breads and crackers provide nutritious, filling alternatives to fatty meats, cheese and mayonnaise. Stick to modest-sized portions for best results.
- Today's Dietitian; Fill in the Fiber Gaps — Dietitians Offer Practical Strategies to Get Clients to Meet the Daily Requirements
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Fiber Content of Selected Foods
- Mayo Clinic: Energy Density and Weight Loss: Feel Full on Fewer Calories
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Why Does Yogurt Have So Much Sugar?
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