Make my oatmeal more filling.
December 17, 2011 3:12 PM   Subscribe

What can I add to my morning oatmeal to make it more filling, without adding more bulk?

I want something that I can add to my oatmeal that will make me feel full for longer, without that something increasing the amount of food I have to eat. I generally have 100g of oatmeal, prepared with milk and a little date syrup. This keeps me going for about 4 hours, before I'm even remotely hungry.

However, sometimes I need to go longer than that (~5 hours) without being hungry, and plain oatmeal can get a little boring after a while. Increasing the amount of oatmeal I eat seemed like a good idea, but I just feel horribly bloated and over-full. Hence wanting something that will fill me up/prevent me from feeling hungry, without making me eat more. I'm happy to eat less oatmeal and more [something else] if that will work.

Another complicating factor is the fact that I make my oatmeal early in the morning (making and eating it later isn't an option), when my mental faculties aren't at their best. Anything involving boiling water or sharp knives isn't going to be a realistic option. If I can prepare something the previous night, keep it in the fridge and mix it with the oatmeal the following morning, then that will work.

I did have the idea to try out some kind of protein powder, given that protein apparently causes the release of the hormone ghrelin, which is associated with a feeling of satiety. Is this liable to work?

For what it's worth, oatmeal is the only thing that I've found that hits the sweet spot of filling and easy to prepare. If there's something else that will do the job as easily, please let me know.
posted by Solomon to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Increase the fat in your milk (or use half and half)? Otherwise, nuts, for protein and fat?

I like cooking steel cut oats in the crock pot overnight, because you wake up, and there is a lovely warm breakfast just waiting for you.
posted by instamatic at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Walnuts or almonds.
posted by onepot at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think you're on the right track with the protein powder. I make a high calorie/protein oatmeal for backpacking trips - I add walnut/almond/hazelnut flour, protein powder, powdered milk, and a little vanilla sugar to cover up the foul taste of the protein powder.
posted by foodgeek at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2011

Yeah, I was going to suggest toasted almond slices or slivers. You just open the bag and chuck a handful in.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2011

Protein powder was my thought before I got to the part where you asked about it. I don't know about hormone releases, but more protein is going to a) help mitigate the carbyness of the oatmeal, b) make you more full. I'd suggest going to (or ordering online from) somewhere that offers smaller packets of various formulas/flavors so you're not committing to a massive amount of powder that turns out to give you the burps or tastes bad.

You might also experiment with avocado and nuts for good fats and protein. Almond meal would do it without really changing the oatmeal in any discernable way.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:19 PM on December 17, 2011

Peanut butter! (Or almond butter...)
posted by willbaude at 3:20 PM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

You could mix in a tablespoon or two of peanut butter. Or chocolate chips. Or both.
posted by leigh1 at 3:21 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Use whole milk (you don't say what kind you use), or even add a dash of cream or butter.
posted by kestrel251 at 3:21 PM on December 17, 2011

Throw in some dried fruit and nuts.
posted by devymetal at 3:27 PM on December 17, 2011

I'd try flax seeds, sunflower seeds or nuts.
posted by runningwithscissors at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Whole milk, nuts and seeds. Peanuts, almonds and sunflower seeds are all full of things that are good for you, and will add food value to anything. Can you eat something along with your oats, like a banana or a hard boiled egg? I often add almonds and dried apricots to porridge (mostly because I like them).

We made massive changes to our diets this year and are now boring evangelists for seeds and nuts :)
posted by thylacinthine at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2011

Heavy Cream.
posted by gregr at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2011

coconut milk.
posted by elizardbits at 3:32 PM on December 17, 2011

heavy whipping cream and bacon. Oatmeal with crumbled bacon is good.
posted by ian1977 at 3:32 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

I find Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal more filling for a longer period of time than regular oatmeal.
posted by wondermouse at 3:37 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

not to be contrary, but it's not realistic to go that long between meals without depleting your glycogen stores, no matter what you eat
posted by facetious at 3:37 PM on December 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

I do what you describe each morning, but I also take a little in a small container and eat it later in the day with some yogurt. I too get up very early for my commute to my (teaching) job. So I eat it at 5:50 and then again around 9:15 with some Greek or Icelandic (skyr) yogurt. Here’s what goes in mine:

1/2 cup oatmeal
Almond slivers
2 scoops of vanilla whey protein
Currants if I have them around
Pinch of sea salt

It takes 5 minutes to make, tops, during which time I make my coffee and look out the window to see how much snow has buried my car.

I only buy this stuff once a month at Trader Joe’s or my local green grocer.

I also agree with facetious said. I try to eat 300-400 protein-rich calories every three hours. That way I can go to the gym after work and have decent energy levels as late as 6 or 7.
posted by vkxmai at 3:48 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Seconding peanut butter. I never would have thought to do it, but my peanut butter-obsessed boyfriend asked me to try it one time, and it's really amazing.
posted by nosila at 3:53 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I plop a half-cup of canned pumpkin in mine and a few shakes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Peanut butter or almond butter. I do a lot of group activities on the weekend that involve getting up super early, eating breakfast in a big hurry, then not having access to food until lunch, and food is like tissue in furnace to me--I'm always starving. If I'm in a hotel room, I make instant oatmeal and stir in a packet of Justin's Nut Butter (peanut butter or almond butter), and it keeps me okay for a good 3-1/2 or 4 hours. Very portable and easy to make even if all you've got is an immersion heater. At home I use regular rolled oats or steel cuts and crunchy peanut butter or crunchy almond butter.
posted by HotToddy at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2011

To take things just one step further from facetious's assertion (that it's unlikely that you'll feel as full five hours after eating as you did 5 minutes after eating, no matter what you eat) an alternative solution might be to bring along a snack.

Maybe a granola bar or a handful of nuts or something else with some protein and fat in it but not too much sugar would get you through the time between the 4- and 5-hour marks. If this would be feasible, maybe you should give it a try.
posted by Scientist at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nuts. Or a scattering of coconut and dates.

If you're willing to go savory, and if you are willing to prep tofu or some leftover chicken, you can add those and some scallions and soy sauce. That would add a bigger bump of protein than nuts.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2011

Your mention of ghrelin got me curious and with some research I found ghrelin levels decreased after eating protein, while carbs would increase levels.

Cravings the hunger hormone and breakfast
posted by kumbu5tion at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2011

Peanut butter. The protein and fat will carry you a lot further than oatmeal alone. Or just an ounce of nuts tossed in.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:13 PM on December 17, 2011

Five hours is not that long. Lots of people eat breakfast at 6 or 7, and lunch at 12 or 1. Rather than modifying your morning oatmeal, it would be much easier to make yourself get used to going longer without getting hungry, or simply get comfortable with feeling hungry once in a while (it's really not that terrible).

It's not necessary to eat every 3-4 hours to maintain energy levels. Plenty of people do just fine with eating once or twice a day, including myself. I feel perfectly alert and energetic after working all day with no food since breakfast, while others who snack on nuts/protein bars/chips are always complaining about feeling hungry and tired. If you've trained yourself to expect a shot of caloric energy every four hours, then of course you are going to feel weak and hungry sooner than you would if you were on a different eating schedule.

On days when you know you will have to go longer without eating, could you have a regular meal in the morning instead of a bowl of oatmeal? Eating several different types of food (not necessarily breakfast food) would probably make you feel less bloated than a big bowl of oatmeal.

But if it has to be oatmeal, I agree with all those suggesting peanut butter!
posted by lali at 4:15 PM on December 17, 2011

There are three types of macronutrients: carbs, fats and proteins. We can break carbs down to simple carbs and complex carbs. Each of these digest at different rates in order from simple carbs to proteins. The oatmeal is a complex carb, the date syrup is a simple carb (a 103 on the glycemic index!).

The suggestions for added fats are good, adding protein is better. Replacing the date syrup with protein powder and stevia for the sweetness is best. If by bulk you mean calories keep in mind that for every gram of fat there are nine calories and for every gram of protein there are three. But, you are going to feel hungry after that time no matter what. I always keep almonds and protein powder at my desk at work.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:22 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might find some inspiration from my previous question. (probs didn't show up cause I used "porridge" not oatmeal, but there's some great ideas in there!)
posted by smoke at 4:40 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did anyone suggest adding semi-sweet chocolate chips and a heaping tablespoonful of peanut butter? It adds fat and protein and tastes like a peanut butter cup.
posted by Lycaste at 5:23 PM on December 17, 2011

I use to eat steel cut oatmeal every morning because I thought it would be good for me, but I never loved it. I'd make it in batches and just reheat a serving in the morning in the microwave with cream and add something sweet like good maple syrup, honey or stevia and fresh nutmeg. Really quite as delicious as I could make it and yet I think I just resented it.
Reheating portions makes it easy, adding any proteins mentioned may make it more filling, but I do think you might just be trained to get hungry at a certain time. Learning to endure is not a bad thing unless it gives you headaches or side effects or whatnot.
If I know I have to go longer without eating, I'll usually eat protein, like eggs, cheese and turkey on an English muffin. It doesn't take much or long to fry eggs and assemble.
If I am low on time or energy, I will sometimes go with vanilla yogurt and grape nuts.
Oatmeal is boring, but healthy. May as well just add stuff for the hell of it.
posted by provoliminal at 5:41 PM on December 17, 2011

I add a little bit of a LOT of different nuts and seeds and pre-chopped dried fruit.


cinnamon (more than you think is reasonable)

I eat it with skim milk and fruit or honey but you could make it whole milk or cream if you wanted.

But I still usually keep a pre-peeled hard-boiled egg for a quick snack if I need one.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2011

Peanut butter

Adding an egg to the oatmeal is an interesting might try that - I was actually going to suggest eating eggs instead if you're open to not eating oatmeal. I used to eat oatmeal every day with some sugar/butter/cinnamon and people at work were always surprised when I was snacking soon after getting in.

So I switched to eggs/toast and that is so much more filling for whatever reason.
posted by fromageball at 6:23 PM on December 17, 2011

Many coops and other places that sell bulk foods have other grains that are also rolled! Rolled quinoa adds a nice proteiny punch to normal oatmeal. Barley and other rolled grains can keep things mixed up too. Also seconding the folks who suggest a 9 or 11 grain hot cereal- those can keep me going much longer than just oats
posted by rockindata at 6:53 PM on December 17, 2011

Unsweetened shredded coconut
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:15 PM on December 17, 2011

dried cranberries
fresh and dried apples
pumpkin seeds
posted by ljesse at 8:19 PM on December 17, 2011

cottage cheese!
posted by hollyanderbody at 11:14 PM on December 17, 2011

another filling and easy food: a can of (chili?) beans with melted cheese. Pretty great first thing in the morning. :-)
posted by trig at 11:23 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

The protein powder trick works for me. I use casein which is more slowly digested.
posted by caddis at 4:44 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

ch ch ch ch chia seeds! They expand in water/liquids, and if I eat them with some water, I feel much more full for longer - tons of people put them on their oatmeal too. You can also make awesome "puddings" and things with them...and they're totally tasteless. Find them in the homeopatic area of whole foods, or by flax seeds and things. They're amazing and full of good omega-3s and things.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2011

Any Hazelnut-Chocolate mix with a decent amount of protein (eg Nutella). It's a different meal entirely. I usually add berries into mine.
posted by dubusadus at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2011

Nutella has 11g fat, 21g sugar and only 3g of protein. It is never a good nutritional choice. Though, there are few things I would rather get fat with.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've used oatmeal with peanut butter (which is DELICIOUS on its own) and Carnation Instant Breakfast, which is powder meant to be stirred into milk, when I need a fast, big meal.
posted by solipsism at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2011

Most mornings, I mix together:

Bob's Red Mill 10 grain hot cereal
Peanut butter
Frozen organic mangoes or strawberries (or occasionally blueberries)

I also used to really like chopped hazelnuts.
posted by teekat at 8:29 PM on December 18, 2011

I was going to say add nuts.

Also, I know people have different attitudes about artificial sweetener, but switching to Splenda has helped my morning oatmeal stick with me longer, because I think I am sensitive to the blood sugar spike. If you want to go natural, I would try reducing your sweetener or cutting it altogether and going savory with salt and butter instead.
posted by elizeh at 9:09 PM on December 18, 2011

Another alternative: Brown rice (make a big batch on Sunday and reheat throughout the week with a little more liquid) with soy sauce, hot sauce if you like, and a fried egg on top. If you get the rice really hot first, don't even bother cooking the egg--just swirl it in raw, and the heat from the rice will cook it.
posted by elizeh at 9:11 PM on December 18, 2011

I also came in to suggest making a second snack to eat later in the day, be it more porridge or something with legumes in it (ie stew, chili, lentil soup), or making something like lentil loaf to carry around and nibble on as it will help round out all the goodness your oatmeal brings you. Memail me if a recipe for lentil loaf sparks your interest. Otherwise, rock pecans, almonds, or dried fruit with your morning meal.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:42 PM on December 18, 2011

Response by poster: I've tested a few of the ideas, and adding fruit seems to be winning so far. I generally use semi skimmed milk, and adding more of it to make the oatmeal more soup-y seems to work well. I can eat more, more easily, by doing this. An apple grated into this, if I get up early enough, really helps. Especially with a little cinnamon (my mouth is starting to water right now). I haven't yet tried the bacon idea, but I guess I can always use more bacon in my life.

I probably should have made it clearer, but it's not a drop in energy levels I'm experiencing, but a very strong sensation of physical hunger. My energy levels don't seem to fluctuate all that much. I just get a horrible gnawing sensation that comes on very quickly, without warning. I seem to get the same amount of work done whether or not I'm hungry, but I don't have a very physically demanding job.

I completely agree that snacking would be a big help, and I'd totally do that if I could, but working prevents this. Between a long commute and getting ready for work and then actually working, I rarely get a chance to snack.

Regarding peanut butter, I tried it, but to make a difference I had to add so much it tasted like I was eating the stuff straight from the jar with a spoon. Which was OK, I guess, but not something I'd want to do every day.

Thanks for all of the tips.
posted by Solomon at 1:49 PM on January 26, 2012

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