Need moar food
January 18, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

What can I keep on hand to snack on, that will fill me up? And concurrently, what foods should I be eating that are most filling?

I'm always hungry. I wake up hungry, go to be hungry, and I'm starving throughout the day. But finding time to eat huge meals three times a day every day isn't easy. What kind of foods should I be eating that don't take a lot of time/energy and will be most filling? And what can I snack on during the day that is mostly cheap and filling?

I have about a half an hour to eat for breakfast, half an hour for lunch, and however much time I need for supper. For lunch lets assume I only have access to a microwave.

It may be worthwhile to note that I am healthy, according to my doctor and blood tests that I've had done.

Also, I'm not a fan of vegetables, and I have what I would call a 'typical midwestern' view of food. My taste buds are culturally challenged. I can attempt to change that if I truly need to.
posted by trogdole to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
Apples. Seriously. There's a reason why dieters are often advised to eat an apple as a mid-afternoon snack; 'cause they're really filling.

Other suggestions: Nuts. Cheese cubes. Hard-boiled eggs. Long-cooking oats soaked overnight in milk.
posted by LN at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2012

The foods that you should be eating to fill yourself up are vegetables. Carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, etc. Sorry.
posted by Grither at 9:13 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Fat and protein and fiber will keep you feeling full.

So: full-fat Greek yogurt. Avocados. Almonds, pecans. For breakfast (which I eat at work), I scramble two eggs in a bowl, add some cheese, nuke, stir, nuke again, and add a dollop of cottage cheese on top of that. And hot sauce. Two minutes and keeps me from feeling gnarly for hours.

You can keep nuts and trail mix things in your desk drawer. Cheese sticks are fine out of refrigeration for a few hours. There's no law that says you have to cram all your calories into meals eaten at 9 am, noon, and 6 pm, though if you're going to be adding snacks like this you might want to track calories for a while to see where you're at and where you're going.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Beef jerky is good--high protein and generally low in fat (but typically high in salt). I also like almonds--another high protein food. More fat in them though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2012

Nuts are very easy and filling. Pre-mixed trail mix is great - do you have a Trader Joe's nearby? They have a ton of trail mix options.

Full fat yogurt is good, eat a piece of fruit with it if you can.

A peanut butter sandwich (add jam if you want) is pretty filling.

Focus on getting plenty of fat and protein. Complex carbohydrates are also good. This will keep you full. If you eat mostly simple carbohydrates and sugar, you will get hungry again more quickly.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2012

Raw vegetables are incredibly underrated. I have a hard time accepting veggies in most cooked forms, which leads to having a lot of meat-heavy meals, but raw they're great for snacking. I spent much of high school between-meal times with a carrot poking out of my mouth like a cartoon cigar; once I started also dunking it in hummus now and again, I was in heaven.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nuts, especially almonds. I'd avoid trail mix, because it's hella calorific.

End every meal with a piece of fruit, such as an apple. Train yourself to associate fruit with finality.

Try as best you can to have each meal be satisfying unto itself. This means making sure you get enough protein and fat - not too much, obviously, but enough so that you actually feel like you ate something.

Chewing gum also helps.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Protein makes and keeps you full longer than other things, and so does fat. Sugar and simple carbs tend to make you hungry - sometimes really hungry - when your blood sugar spikes and crashes. Trail mix tends to be candy, so you may want to stick to almonds, cashews, and/or macadamia nuts.

I keep a lunch bag in the fridge at work with cheese, beef/chicken from home or deli meat (which is really salty and not terribly good for you, but better than cookies in a pinch), hummus, carrot/celery, hardboiled eggs (24 for $4 at Costco), almond butter, and a small ration of dark chocolate. There's a bag of almonds in my desk drawer. I can make breakfast, lunch, and snacks out of all that.

I also keep 4+ cans of soup in my desk drawer, generally of the "chicken veg & rice" Progresso-type, for when I don't have another lunch option.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:25 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing nuts - I've taken to keeping a CostCo bag of raw almonds mixed with a CostCo bag of dried cherries in a container in my desk drawer, just for this purpose. A small (1/4- to 1/2-cup) serving of this is often enough to tide me over through long afternoons.
posted by jferg at 9:30 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a pretty constant feeling of hunger throughout the day, and very limited time. Recently, I discovered that eating a carrot (not the wet little baby carrots, but a full-size, unpeeled carrot) stops my hunger, makes me feel good for about another hour, and is healthy and cheap.

I was pretty surprised by this carrot thing.
posted by fake at 9:31 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can you give us an idea of what you typically eat throughout the day? The foods you are consuming right now should illuminate why you're hungry all the time.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2012

Half an hour is more than enough time to fry an egg and make a piece of toast for breakfast. This is my standard breakfast, and I'm done within 15 minutes, 20 tops.

My method:
1. Turn heat on medium-high under a small cast iron skillet that's been sprayed with Pam. Use butter if you want more fat.
2. Feed the cat.
3. Take vitamins with a large glass of water.
4. Remove egg(s) from refrigerator and slice(s) of whole wheat bread from freezer. One of each is enough for me.
5. Break the egg into the skillet.
6. Put the bread in the toaster.
7. Open the curtains.
7. Turn on the "Today Show."
8. Flip the egg
9. Retrieve the toast, put it on a plate
10. Put the egg on top of the toast.
11. Get a fork and enjoy.

I'm usually done with all of that in 15 minutes. It lasts me (and I am always hungry, too) until lunchtime.

Sometimes I make a smoothie (cran-whatever juice, ground flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeng, vanilla, a bit of peanut oil, and frozen blueberries). That's fast, too, and stays with me until lunchtime.
posted by Dolley at 9:34 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm not a fan of vegetables, and I have what I would call a 'typical midwestern' view of food. My taste buds are culturally challenged. I can attempt to change that if I truly need to.

Erm, yes, you need to change your "taste buds." A "typical Midwestern view of food" (lots of meat and potatoes?) is not an excuse to eat in a manner that always leaves you hungry. You're a grown up, I presume, and you can learn how to eat healthy foods. The kid part of my brain would freaking LOVE to eat candy, ice cream and toast all day, but the adult part of my brain knows it would leave me listless, starving and unfocused. So I don't.

Without knowing anything about your diet, I would wager that you're eating foods with a high glycemic index. Breads, starches, rice, sugars (even sugars from fruit, though they at least have some stomach-filling fiber) will leave you feeling hungry a mere hour after you consume them.

I would introduce almonds, and if your taste buds hate regular roasted almonds there are always flavored ones that Blue Diamonds makes. Try Ina Garten's roasted broccoli, which is amazing and filling. You don't even need the pine nuts and cheese if you don't want them - roasted broccoli is a revelation unto itself. I second Greek yogurt, or even the Icelandic skyr yogurt, as both are excellent sources of calcium and protein. I like spinach salads with chicken breast, a hardboiled egg, and Annie's Goddess dressing, which is FULL of flavor. Also: edamame with garlic salt, hummus with red peppers or carrots, and scrambled eggs for breakfast .
posted by zoomorphic at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

For breakfast, I find granola to be very filling. It's also very fast and easy to make. This is important to morning-sloths like myself, who cannot be bothered to do very much at all until the caffeine and/or Vyvanse kicks in.

Peanut butter on toast is something my girlfriend does, and if anything, it's too filling for me in the morning.

I echo the note above about baby carrots. Those smooth, wet baby carrots are lame. They're just big carrots shaved into those weird ellipsoid shapes. Get real carrots and chop them up at night. I like eating carrots just by themselves, but peanut butter and hummus are popular additions.

I also echo the note about raw veggies versus cooked veggies. In general, I prefer raw veggies, especially for snacking. Cooked veggies are often soggy and gross, unless they're made freshly and correctly, which isn't usually possible in an office microwave.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hard boiled eggs. Boil half a dozen the night before and you'll be set for a few days at least.

Veggie chips work too (just slice, season, and bake at night)

As for breakfast, here's what I do in about half an hour:

2 egg omelette with veggies (spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and red peppers are my favorite)
3 slices turkey bacon
bowl of oatmeal or a slice of whole wheat toast
some sort of fruit (apple/orange/pear, etc)

This usually tides me over to 3-4 in the afternoon. I'll usually have some yogurt then to hold me over to dinner around 6.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2012

I've found pita chips to be surprisingly filling. Snack on a few chips, drink water, and do something else. Give yourself time to feel full. And do you eat until you're completely full, or content? When there's plenty of tasty food around, I over-eat, so post-holidays, I'm trying to slow myself down, and I realize I can eat less and still feel full.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on January 18, 2012

Fat is what makes you feel full---nuts, peanut butter, cheese.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:53 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Small meals every two to three hours (a little more like medium sized for breakfast, lunch and dinner) always including some protein and focusing on things that are unprocessed and fiber rich.

Think on terms of two lists, Good Snacks and Good Protein.. Mix anything from Good Snacks with anything from Good Protein.

For example:

Good Snacks
Fresh fruit
Fruit canned without extra sugar or preservatives
Frozen fruit (for smoothies)
Fresh raw veggies
Fresh steamed veggies
Baked or roasted veggies

Good protein
Cheese (in moderation)
Unprocessed nuts

You get the idea. Healthy fiber rich carbs like whole grain breads and pasta, or fiber rich healthy cereals make a great addition for larger meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner.
posted by bearwife at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pistachios are my go-to desk snack. They're salty and crunchy and have protein, and for when I need to be reading paperwork/web stuff, they have the added bonus of giving me something fiddly to do with my hands.
posted by jbickers at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Nuts, especially almonds. I'd avoid trail mix, because it's hella calorific. "

I came in to recommend almonds myself. But let's not kid ourselves; trail mix is hella calorific because of the nuts.
posted by benbenson at 11:03 AM on January 18, 2012

Eating healthy food really does make you less hungry. It's amazing. I made the decision to switch to a 75% vegan diet after the holidays, and I've been eating as much as I want. I've lost over 5 pounds in two and a half weeks.

I agree with "attempting to change" your taste buds. A large percentage of my diet is now comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and I don't feel like I'm depriving myself at all. On the contrary--I feel fucking awesome.
posted by duvatney at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had to get the "midwestern view of food" explained to me, but now I'm even more confused because supposedly a midwesterner eats large quantities of meat and potatoes and grains, all of which sound very filling to me. Are you just eating smaller portions or something?

But anyway, you don't have to eat more vegetables if you don't want to do that: if your doctor says you're healthy right now, you're clearly not suffering any deficiency diseases yet.

The key is to optimize for high absolute calories and low glycemic index. Since Wikipedia is down right now, I'll explain glycemic index briefly. The glycemic index of a food is (slightly incorrect for simplicity) the amount of sugar that enters your blood within two hours of eating a standardized quantity of that food, normalized against an equivalent amount of pure sugar dissolved in water. High glycemic index means you'll digest it quickly and start feeling hungry again soon; low glycemic index means you'll digest it slowly and feel full longer.

Good examples of high calorie, low(er) glycemic index foods that fit what I've been told is a midwesterner's palate would include pearled barley, baked beans, chili, all sorts of meat and especially fatty meat, whole wheat or rye bread, green beans, milk, carrots, peanut butter, apples, peanut butter slathered on each bite of an apple, butter, oatmeal, oatmeal with butter and peanut butter, ... you get the idea, I think.
posted by d. z. wang at 11:50 AM on January 18, 2012

I've found that the only thing that really fills me up for breakfast is eggs. I try to have eggs prepared some way with toast and butter.

For snacks I like roasted chick peas. They're really filling. I'm also a person who eats all the time so it's nice to have a container of the chick peas to snack on. I roast them myself while I'm getting ready in the morning. Oven on at 350 I toss the chick peas with olive oil, salt, and whatever spices and put them in the oven. Stir every 15 min or so. They take about 40ish minutes to roast.
posted by fromageball at 12:04 PM on January 18, 2012

I have your same hunger issues. I recommend a large quantity of air-popped popcorn followed by a huge slug of water. You'll feel the sponge-like effect immediately!
Yes to all the nut advice above. And I know what you mean about veggies not being filling...the damn things are just crunchy water. There's nothing there, and that's why they won't fill you up.
Also, I find bananas more filling than apples.
posted by BostonTerrier at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2012

Are you getting enough protein and fat? I read in a few places that too many carbs/not enough protein & fat can lead to blood sugar rollercoasters that... in turn lead to more hunger. My experience has borne this out.

Fiber (vegetables/fruit) does not cut it for me at all in terms of "filling me up" or averting hunger a couple of hours after meals. Veggies and fruit are great sources of micronutrients (such as antioxidants) that are critical to your diet, but they won't help sustain your blood sugar levels.

I would try adding the following to your regular meals. If you're still hungry, snack on these foods.
  • Nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds and almonds are among the best.
  • Salmon, tuna steaks, and other high-fat fish
  • Eggs. Forget the outdated cholesterol hype - blood cholesterol doesn't come from the cholesterol in your diet. (Millions of French people can't be wrong...)
  • Cheese (with fruit if you like)
  • Full-fat dairy such as yogurt and whole milk
  • Kefir
  • Nut and seed butters (tahini, almond butter). I heard from a diabetic once that peanut butter can cause your blood sugar to go up quickly; not sure how true that is. That's not always a bad thing, but what goes up must come down.
  • A good dose of high-quality olive oil on that lunch salad
  • A teaspoon of flax oil in the morning provides a good dose of all the omega fatty acids you'll need. The stuff tastes like latex paint smells BUT it is the cheapest way to go in terms of an omega fatty acid supplement. And it's a lot more sustainable than fish oil capsules (and no mercury worries either).
Scale back on the carbs a bit if you do this, else you might start gaining more weight than is healthy.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't find apples or fruit or vegetables at all filling. I love them, and will happily eat them at mealtimes or when I'm not really hungry, but if I am hungry I need something with some protein and/or fat.

Peanut butter on something (on an apple, on celery, on bread). Oatmeal (super filling, and you can make it in less than 2 minutes in the microwave). Rice with a poached egg on top. Sometimes I just microwave an egg beaten up with a little bit of cheese (or cottage cheese, or yogurt). Takes maybe 30 seconds. Tuna right out of the can. Or on crackers.

Sometimes I open a can of chickpeas and mix it with some tuna and cottage cheese. Great post-gym food.

Likewise, a slab of frozen spinach in a bowl with chickpeas and/or cottage cheese, microwaved until bubbly. Eat by dipping bread in it.

Bulk is also filling to some extent. Watery soups or stews. But they have to have protein or fat in them. A swirl of yogurt on top if nothing else.

All of these things can be prepared from cans or other supplies that are easy to keep on hand. Eggs don't even actually need to be refrigerated. Yogurt does, and frozen spinach needs a freezer. But I have access to the space to keep all these things at work in my office and the lunchroom, so maybe you do too.
posted by lollusc at 2:54 PM on January 18, 2012

Oh, and sometimes I just throw a raw sweet potato in my bag. When I get hungry later at work, I put it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high and eat it plain or with a little salt. Delicious and filling.
posted by lollusc at 2:56 PM on January 18, 2012

Sometimes people think they are hungry, when they are actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water before every snack, see if you can satisfy your cravings.

Also, oral cravings or restlessness feel like hunger. I keep a small jar of Whole Cloves on my desk. I just roll it around in my mouth, biting occasionally. Or maybe you can chew on a toothpick.
posted by ohshenandoah at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sometimes people think they are hungry, when they are actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water before every snack, see if you can satisfy your cravings.

Ah yes! This is the other thing I had to re-teach myself.
posted by fake at 6:05 PM on January 18, 2012

I loooove apples, but they never make me full. Actually, whenever I eat an apple, even if I had the biggest meal ever just moments before, I instantly become hungry. So YMMV with fresh fruit.

Btw, I think I remember reading somewhere that it's recommended to eat fruit before a meal, not after it.

I'll join others in recommending protein + fat + fibre. (And yes, drink before snacking and check if it's maybe just thirst and not hunger.)
posted by gakiko at 12:42 AM on January 23, 2012

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