Can't stay full!
May 21, 2009 8:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to watch what I eat, but I'm hungry all the time! What should I eat to help curb the hunger?

I've been keeping track of what I eat and exercising trying to count calories (and make the calories I do eat more healthy than cheeseburgers and milkshakes).

The problem is that as I do this I get hungry every 3 hours or so. I'm eating salads, fruit, some vegetables, staying hydrated, etc. but I just can't seem to last from breakfast to lunch or from lunch to dinner.

I'm trying to eat healthy snacks between meals, but I'm quickly losing interest in dried fruit and nuts.

Is there something wrong with what I'm doing that is causing me to hungry so often?
Can you suggest some snacks to eat to curb the hunger between meals?
posted by yellowbkpk to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Drink more water.
posted by kldickson at 8:15 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by jerseygirl at 8:15 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Consider switching to a LC diet, like Atkins. Not only will the protein make you feel fuller, you're absolutely encouraged to eat when you feel hungry.
posted by unixrat at 8:17 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you want to lose weight then you're going to be hungry more often.

The trick for me is to only eat when I'm hungry, and then stop eating when I'm still a little hungry.

If you want to stay sated for longer I would recommend eating small portions of fattier foods. A piece of bacon is enough for me to stay sated for quite a while, and though it's 50 calories, as long as I eat one piece and not a whole serving, then I'm not blowing my caloric budget.
posted by bshort at 8:17 AM on May 21, 2009

When you are hungry, your body is trying to tell you something. It wants food!

Instead of those three meals a day go for five. That way, you give your body a constant supply of food and don't go through the crazy high and low blood sugar roller coaster.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:17 AM on May 21, 2009

Water will help you feel fuller; also eating things that take a lot more chewing - like celery - or digesting - like fiberous foods. (Both of which are very good for you). Also, chew everything longer at every meal or snack - your body measures how much you have eaten partly by how long it takes you to eat it.

I also seem to remember some research a couple of years ago which confirmed that the Atkins diet had some scientific basis, but that it was the high amount of protien that curbed appetites and helped people lose weight, not the low carbohydrates, and that you should still stay away from/be moderate on fats.
posted by jb at 8:19 AM on May 21, 2009

My doctor just recommended I have six small meals instead of three large meals. Try changing your snacks into something a bit more substantial (while paring down your meals, to average out). She also made a point of saying I should have some kind of protein early in the day, and to avoid carbs the last two meals before bed.
posted by purpletangerine at 8:19 AM on May 21, 2009

Try getting more fiber in - either metamucil drinks or pills are just fine, and there are more expensive soluble fiber pills. You're supposed to take them with a lot of liquid.

Whenever you get hungry, you can take the fiber, drink some water, and then wait 20 minutes before giving into food cravings. You're supposed to take them 20 minutes before every meal.
posted by lizbunny at 8:19 AM on May 21, 2009

Jerseygirl is right - the key is lean meats. They're surprisingly low in calories (heck - bacon is one of my Hacker Diet staples - Applegate Farms' is only 35 calories per slice) and they fill you up. And some fat is good too, in my experience. An all carb+vegetable diet never satisfies me.
posted by bonecrusher at 8:20 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

OH! And JerseyGirl brings up a good point.

If you eat 200 calories worth of sugar your body will digest that lightning fast and you will be hungry soon after.

If you eat 200 calories worth of protein, your body takes longer to digest it. Again, avoiding that blood sugar roller coaster.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:22 AM on May 21, 2009

A bowl of high-fibre cereal and milk as a snack.

And n'thing lean meats... throw a chicken breast on that salad.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:22 AM on May 21, 2009

Nthing everyone who's said less carbs and more protein. Protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied for a longer period. Eating a lot of carbs just makes you crave more carbs.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:23 AM on May 21, 2009

Eating every two to three hours is actually good for you! As long as you eat little portions and not full meals every time. The frequent munching keeps your metabolism up.

Lil baby carrots are very yummy. I like their crunch and slight sweetness.

Seasonal berries are also fantastic (I feel so decadent when I eat a package of raspberries...).

If you like yogurt, a cup of plain + honey is also delish. I highly recommend getting whole milk yogurt, not the "dieting" kind. The whole milk yogurt will fill you up, and not leave that nasty aspartame in your system. Plus, most whole milk yogurt is not made with high fructose corn syrup, another thing I try to avoid. Fage Greek yogurt is really good, but I also love the Stoneyfield Farm Whole Milk Plain.

For protein, sliced turkey and sliced cheddar cheese on Finn Crisp crackers is the best. This is especially good if you've been lifting weights (yay protein).

A banana is super good and curbs hunger, plus it gives you tons of potassium and other goodies that you need after a cardio workout.

I'm trying to loose a few pounds too, and I've made a new rule: nothing but veggies after 7 pm. So far, it's working. ;)

Happy snacking!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:24 AM on May 21, 2009

Few high GI carbs, more fats and protein.
posted by Loto at 8:25 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, if you've got a calorie deficit of, say, 50 calories at the end of your day, don't turn down the occasional sweet treat to fill that up, just as long as it's 50 calories. Two Oreo cookies usually help me maintain that feeling of being full.
posted by kldickson at 8:29 AM on May 21, 2009

Ahem, I mean fewer, not few.

Fats/Protein will not cause as great of an insulin response as carbs will. This will keep you feeling fuller longer and also aid in weight loss.

Fruits fall into the high GI carb category, as do pretty much all grains, potatoes and some root veggies. I'm not saying don't eat these things at all, but the bulk of your carbs should be coming from veggies.
posted by Loto at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2009

More fats and protein, fewer carbs!
posted by fairlysober at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2009

They're surprisingly low in calories (heck - bacon is one of my Hacker Diet staples - Applegate Farms' is only 35 calories per slice)

Turkey bacon is 50 calories for 3 slices. Little snacks like a couple squares of low fat cheddar and a bit of grapes would probably tide you over. Dried fruit, while delicious, is generally pretty high in carbs.

And if you're not doing so already, cut down on those breads, pastas and refined sugars. You don't have to go full low carb, but you'd be surprised how much cutting out the complex carbs helps.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2009

Ignore the fad diet - just calorie count so you have a 3500 calorie deficit per week.
posted by kldickson at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2009

Calorie counting and food tracking = good if you are trying to lose weight

Ignoring the fact that the body responds to different caloric ratios of carbs/proteins/fats = bad
posted by Loto at 8:42 AM on May 21, 2009

You may be hungry simply because you're not eating enough. If you're getting serious hunger pangs, instead of just feeling bored and wanting some kind of taste sensation, then you are probably undereating. You need to eat less and exercise to lose weight, but too severe a deficit corrodes motivation, makes you more likely to quit and may reduce your metabolic rate.

Make your calories count. You can dampen physiological hunger by having some healthy fat or protein with every meal or snack. Try to avoid nearly pure carbs as meals and snacks, even if they're healthy foods, because the sugar kickback from even whole grains will make you hungry again soon. Volume, fluid and fiber help, too. Anecdote: I find that a big salad with nuts and veggies, plus a dressing made with real olive oil and balsamic vinegar, is more satisfying than a piece of whole grain bread and an apple, while delivering about the same number of calories.

If boredom and taste deprivation are behind your hunger, try to figure out if you're the kind of person who does well with, say, a couple of small pieces with chocolate every day, or someone who enjoys something rich once a week.
posted by wexford_arts at 8:42 AM on May 21, 2009

Lift weights, hit the treadmill, and up your caloric intake.
posted by dfriedman at 8:47 AM on May 21, 2009

This sounds like me before learning I was insulin resistant. I was hungry ALL THE TIME, mainly because I was trying to eat "healthy" which I thought meant low-fat, lots of fruit.

At the time of my diagnosis I also learned that I was fructose intolerant. I had to immediately cut all sugars - including fruit - from my diet. This meant, of course, no more processed foods.

What was left to eat was meat, fish, nuts, cheese, and green veggies. The happy side-effect of this was that my blood sugar stabilized and now I'm hungry only at mealtimes.

One suggestion would be to cut out the dried fruit. People think it's healthy, but it really isn't - dried fruit is concentrated calories that will send your blood sugar sky high, just like candy, resulting in a crash and ravenous hunger. Or so my endocrinologist tells me. Fresh fruit is far preferable, particularly the lower-carb ones such as berries and melon - but if you're going to eat fruit, eat it with a protein/fat such as cheese or nuts.
posted by chez shoes at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

- Eat more of the following: Pulses, Beans, legumes, lean meats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, eggs, olive oil, nuts (in moderation), fish, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables

- dried fruit sucks. eat whole fruit

- Many times, our body interprets tiredness, irritability, or anxiety as hunger. Are you hungry or is it some other issue?

- Eat slowly - your body will have more time to tell you that it's full.

- if you are still constantly hungry after addressing the above issues, it's possible that you have a medical condition. Go to the doctor, make sure that your thyroid levels are okay and that you're not insulin resistant.

- If the doctor didn't find any issues, it's possible that you just need to cut your deficit a bit. There's no point going through life in a constant fog of hunger. Up your calories until the hunger pangs are bearable.
posted by sid at 9:10 AM on May 21, 2009

I was going to type a large response, but I think it's best for you to go here. Great forum and articles, with plenty of science backed information. There are some good responses in this thread, but some are way off the mark. Sign up at the forum and ask your question there, and I guarantee you will get some fantastic answers. And yes, you probably need a combination of things such as more protein/fiber/fat in your diet and more than likely, more calories. Best of luck.
posted by scarello at 9:43 AM on May 21, 2009

Eat more fiber.

I tend to get hungry often or have blood sugar crashes enough to feel it, but if I start my day off with a nice bowl of oatmeal, that doesn't happen. Protein is also something good to follow that up with at your next meal. But good amounts of fiber will help keep you feeling fuller longer, and stuff like oatmeal will help you avoid blood sugar crashes that would make you ravenous otherwise.

Dried fruit is actually not as healthy as it seems. Since the fruit is super concentrated, you get a lot of sugars and it barely has any real fiber to compensate. Eat fresh fruit. An apple has a lot of good fiber you can use. Dip it in peanut butter to add some protein and healthy fats.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:44 AM on May 21, 2009

Dunno whether it is true but a friend told me once that eating a little something sweet after your savoury stuff signifies to your brain that you're "done". I do this sometimes, like a little piece of chocolate after a salad, and it works for me!

Plus, you gotta keep your little treats in there :]
posted by greenish at 9:53 AM on May 21, 2009

Something that I have only recently tried is using hoodia. I take four 250mg pills most days to curb my appetite. It's all natural and non-habit-forming. I started on it about three weeks ago and it really does the trick especially in the evenings to curb my appetite completely but does not make me jittery or keep me awake. I went from 225-205 without any kinds of supplements between Dec 08-May 12, 09 and then started on hoodia and in the last three weeks I have lost eight pounds, which is about two pounds more than my average month.
posted by parmanparman at 10:19 AM on May 21, 2009

nthing having more, smaller meals.
posted by Xianny at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2009

Eat protein - lean chicken, lean beef, wild salmon, tuna, nuts, legumes, and fill up on fruit. You can eat as much of those foods (within reason) as you like.
posted by fire&wings at 11:00 AM on May 21, 2009

A bowl of high-fibre cereal and milk as a snack.

Cereal is full of calories.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:08 AM on May 21, 2009

If you're drinking diet soda, it make be making you feel hungrier. I know that if I have a can of sugar-free soda in the afternoon, I'm absolutely ravenous afterward.

If I have a cup of tea or a glass of water, that hunger never appears.
posted by burntflowers at 11:14 AM on May 21, 2009

Cereal is full of calories

Cheerios has about 100 cal per serving, for instance. But even something like raisin bran only has 200. Both have fiber and vital nutrients. A lot of cereals fall within this range, including whole grain ones like shredded wheat. A half-cup of skim milk adds about 40 calories, plus protein and calcium.

Calories aren't the end-all. You have to look at the overall picture. 150-200 calories of cereal + milk is a lot better than 150 calories of potato chips and is good fuel.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:18 AM on May 21, 2009

If you are eating a relatively well balanced diet, taking in adequate calories (less than you were), exercising regularly and are in good health then you may need to be hungry sometimes--it will pass and you will learn that hunger does not equal eating There have been some excellent suggestions regarding diet: avoid simple carbs, eat adequate protein, a nice mixture of fruit and vegetables and an occasional treat. It is virtually impossible to lose weight with out experiencing hunger--I would encourage you to consider increasing aerobic activity and know ( calculate) your caloric requirements to lose weight. Remember--the more you exercise the more you can eat and the easier it is to control blood sugar levels. If there were a few simple tricks to avoid overeating and hunger we would all know it,
posted by rmhsinc at 11:23 AM on May 21, 2009

I have the same experience as burntflowers -- strong black tea suppresses appetite for me.
posted by palliser at 11:32 AM on May 21, 2009

Adding to the pile-on recommending more meals per day. I typically eat five or six large snacks/small meals throughout the day. It helps with the hunger pangs and blood sugar peaks/valleys.

When I was more serious about losing weight I'd eat a stalk of celery when my jaws needed some exercise (the munchies) or drink a glass of warm water when my belly thought it wasn't getting it's due.
posted by lekvar at 12:12 PM on May 21, 2009

When I have eaten protein but my satiety response hasn't kicked in yet, or when I haven't gotten enough volume in a meal, plain air-popped popcorn works for me. Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons unpopped kernels: 100 calories, 6g fiber, 24g carb, 4g protein.
posted by catlet at 12:26 PM on May 21, 2009

String cheese!
posted by wyzewoman at 12:40 PM on May 21, 2009

Here is an excellent article from the site I mention above. Address exactly what you are asking. Enjoy!
posted by scarello at 2:56 PM on May 21, 2009

Calories aren't the end-all.

Yes they are. Eat more than you burn, you will get fat. Basic physiology...Yes, a bag of chips is not as healthy as a bag of carrots, but at the end of the day, your body looks at the energy the same. Now if you are talking about things such as heart health, and altering body composition, then yes, you have to watch what you stuff down your throat. But calories will always come into play and are always important.
posted by scarello at 3:00 PM on May 21, 2009

Eggs are a good source of protein, and, at least for me, if I have an egg in the morning, I feel much fuller until lunchtime than I would otherwise. Of course, a hard-boiled egg is probably much better for you than a pan fried egg. I'm not a huge fan of the yolks, which works out, since that leaves me with the protein from the egg whites.

Chicken breast on a salad is good, but so are chopped boiled egg whites.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:32 PM on May 21, 2009

I'm a doctor; I might even be your doctor. Skimming this thread, I see a lot of good advice. For myself, I have found that the low-carb South Beach Diet banishes my appetite within a couple of days. Buy the book.
posted by neuron at 3:42 PM on May 21, 2009

some of my fav low calorie snacks:
pineapple and cottage cheese
chopped red cabbage - I'll take a sandwich bag of this to work, and just munch on it raw - the crunchiness is very satisfying
sugar free candies when I get sweet cravings. Campino and Werthers are really tasty, and have about 6 calories each
strawberries, lots of strawberries. so good
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:50 PM on May 21, 2009

Shangri La Diet
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 8:23 PM on May 21, 2009

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