Help me not be hungry all the time!!
September 22, 2022 5:34 AM   Subscribe

For ethical and climate concern reasons, I have limited myself to only eating meat once a week, and only locally raised and 100% grass fed. Subsequent to that decision, I’ve discovered that I am allergic to milk and eggs - which is about 80% of my diet. I’m doing lots of rice and lentils and beans; have added oatmeal to my breakfast smoothies, eat until my stomach hurts during dinner (which just makes me fall asleep), but I am hungry ALL THE TIME. What am I doing wrong? Should I be adding more fats? Are there recipes you can share that will give me a sense of a better way to combine foods for satiation? (Extra difficulty level - soy-based is problematic right now because it kicks off all the miserable menopause symptoms.) Any guidance is appreciated.
posted by Silvery Fish to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Fat does help satiety for a longer period than carbs and protein.

That said, for some people, autumn-going-into-winter can cause an increase in appetite. I'd be curious to learn if people have some advice around that possible circumstance.

There might be some useful ideas on this thread:
posted by dancing leaves at 5:42 AM on September 22 [5 favorites]

Lactose free cheese? (Is it an actual milk allergy or a lactose allergy?)

Also: nuts! Rich in fats, snack all day.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:46 AM on September 22 [4 favorites]

Yeah, fats are probably the way to do it. Nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, more stir-fry or other cooking methods that use some oils, etc. Milk (and cheese, butter, etc) has a fair bit of fat in it and pulling all of that out of your diet at once has probably dropped your calorie intake by way more than it would look in terms of food volume. You might consider dumping a couple days' worth of your food intake into a tracker and figure out how much you're actually eating in terms of calories.

Also, are you eating seafood at all? That's a way to get some more protein that may work for your ethical and climate concerns. (Or may not - seafood does, imo, require research to be ethical.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:58 AM on September 22 [9 favorites]

I made similar dietary changes, I recommend you try some nice fatty luxuriant Indian dal dishes. I like Dassana's Veg recipes, just change ghee to refined coconut oil. I find the extra rich flavor of simmering the spices in oil first (tadka) helps make it very psychologically filling and satisfying too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:58 AM on September 22 [5 favorites]

From a hunger perspective, you might be able to meet your climate goals by eating chicken a few times a week rather than red meat one a week. You would have to run the numbers to decide for yourself, but chicken is just so much less farming intensive than cows or even pork.

Also, people who do Keto use coconut oil and coconut cream extensively to add fat to things. They are good resplacements for dairy if you want to add richness to things like lentil recipes without bringing soy into the mix.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:59 AM on September 22 [7 favorites]

It does sound like you may have switched a lot of elements of your diet at once, so it might take some trial and error to figure out what works for you. For instance, I'm wondering if your body intrinsically finds smoothies and/or (simple) carbs unfilling. Instead of white rice, try chick peas, "cauliflower rice", or maybe brown rice (or maybe don't substitute anything for white rice at all).

Would you consider milk substitutes? (I personally find the coconut or almond based yogurt options pretty tasty). It might take some (unpleasant) experimentation, but it's possible that if you are allergic to chicken eggs you aren't necessarily allergic to duck eggs, for example.
posted by oceano at 6:03 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]

I would recommend upping fat and dietary fiber, and if you're finding it hard to meet a good daily amount of fiber you can take psyllium husk capsules at the beginning of each meal. Avocadoes are going to be hit or miss this time of year for fat, but nut fats are good too - more tahini, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter, almonds in various forms. Get into vegan sauces, which are often nut-based. Are you using a vegan protein powder with your smoothies? You should be able to find some that are pea protein instead of soy.

Don't eat until your stomach hurts, that is never a solution and it's going to cause more problems than it solves. Eat more often, incorporate snack times into your day - maybe meal-prep mini-salads and roasted vegetables that you can have with those vegan sauced or hummus.

Make sure you're not being a carbitarian/pastatarian. You'll be hungry all the time because your blood sugar is spiking and crashing all the time. Try to skew more to whole foods for your carbs, like potatoes and winter squashes. Pad your meals with fairly neutral fibery things like green beans, radish (delicious roasted and in stir fries), jicama, dark leafy greens. Even at breakfast, eat vegetables and put them in your smoothies, the highest fiber ones you can stand.

Look at vegetarian Mediterranean Diet food for inspiration, as well as vegetarian/vegan Indian/Pakistani/Bengali food. You might also try a smidge of goat and sheep cheese (feta is a good entry point if you can find the real stuff), and also cooked yogurt in recipes (plus there's coconut and almond yogurt on the market now), as they may not trigger allergies.

I rarely advocate counting calories, but you might spend as few days as possible just running a rough tally of what you're actually taking in, as you may need to recalibrate your mind's eye to what is an actual full serving of a meatless meal or snack. It's likely you need to be eating bigger meals plus snacks over the course of the day, not just stuffing yourself at one meal.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:06 AM on September 22 [5 favorites]

Fat definitely helps, and so does veggies like broccoli, asparagus, and green beans, ideally cooked just enough to soften them a smidge. If I'm doing low carb and want to up my fat, I'll either toss them with butter or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

2nding that avocados are a good fat replacement if you've dropped dairy. I'm mildly lactose intolerant, so sometimes I get the nut-based dairy replacements, especially for cream, and those do a decent job.

Combining the above, there's a local place that does a salad with kale, asparagus, broccoli and avocado that keeps me pleasantly and long lastingly full even when I don't get an animal protein on it. There's some kind of nut on there too. They serve it with a vinegarette and olives (also good source of fat) and pepperocini, but I think you could change it out for a variety of dressings to fit your tastes.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:11 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? You need fiber to feel full. And as others have said, fat sources like nuts.
posted by redlines at 6:15 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

It would probably be best to get advice from a dietitian.

If you are avoiding milk and eggs and only eating minimal meat, then you likely need a b12 supplement. You may need other supplements too.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:22 AM on September 22 [8 favorites]

Oh, I also wanted to 2nd the points about thinking of sustainable seafood or swapping out a couple of days of another animal protein for red meat, if you have the bandwidth to do so. You just dropped eggs and dairy from your diet, so maybe a couple days of fish or chicken would keep you at a similar climate impact while keeping you full. We've cut back on our meat/poultry, but we found my husband will have a similar experience to you where he'll be hungry all the time whenever we've gone a few days without animal protein, and we don't have to cut out dairy or soy.

Also, have you had any blood work done recently? I'm just wondering if you're a little low on something you'd usually get from red meat, like iron. Not sure it's worth checking out just yet, but something to keep in mind.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:32 AM on September 22

It sounds like you are now mostly vegan. Welcome! I just got some recommendations here for great vegan cookbooks. I would seek out recipes with protein (beans, seitan, nut-based), fat (oil, nuts, nut based cheeses), and whole grains, and crucially, that are yummy to you! to fill you up and keep you satisfied. Eat generously sized (but not until you are stuffed!) meals.

Keep a supply of filling snacks around: nut butters with crackers, vegan yogurts (this coconut product is very rich and filling), trail mix.

Drink plenty of water and give your body some time to adjust to the major changes you've made!
posted by latkes at 6:53 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Definitely get a B12 supplement.

Here are some ways that I can smooth out my blood sugar and appetite when I'm eating vegan (as I am now):

Oatmeal - mix a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter into it, top with shredded coconut. Nut butters on whole grain or even better pumpernickel bread (or we have this weird prairie bread I can get that is like, suuuuuuper dense) can really give you that satiation.

Beans and pulses - sounds like you have lentils down but check out other beans too. We do things like cauliflower and chickpea curry and the brassica slows down the digestion of the chickpeas. Toss raw cashews into stirfries.

Salads (including bean salads): Add pumpkin and sunflower seeds into them. Pumpkin seeds are a great protein source and slow down that burn. Pecans in beet salads, walnuts in spinach salads, etc.

Grains - barley is amazing and you can use it like rice (cook on whole grain setting in the rice cooker) or make a breakfast cereal out it. We use pot barley (is more whole) but even pearl grain barley works. Check out other grains like buckwheat, steel cut oats, etc. Red rice and there are kind of seven-grain mixes (not in the cereal aisle, in the rice aisle.)

Bowls - we eat a lot of different bowls and there are lots of ideas on the 'net and otherwise with bases of sweet potato, kale, grains as above, or hummus. Drizzle with tahini and chop avocado in along with other vegetables.

Coconut yoghurt with chia seeds or as a base for overnight oats with coconut or oat milk is also really good and filling.

Hope this helps!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:58 AM on September 22

I suggest you stop eating red meat altogether and add several meals of chicken per week to your diet. This will not increase your carbon footprint.

Chicken and eggs have a much lower carbon footprint than cheese. You can replace 1 serving of beef per week with 5 servings of chicken without increasing your carbon footprint. There are are other ethical concerns associated with chicken consumption, but from a climate change perspective it is much better than red meat or dairy.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:07 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]

How do you feel about fish? I'm thinking specifically about small, oily fishes like sardines and anchovies. Mackerel are good, too. They go really well with lentils and rice dishes or are nice cooked with garlic in oil and poured over sturdy greens like kale or escarole or endive or potatoes. Small fishes are much more sustainable and ocean friendly and give you some added protein, fat, and umami, all of which can help with satiety. This cookbook has some tasty recipes and also discusses how to find sustainable canned seafood.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:07 AM on September 22 lets you put together custom nuts-seeds-and-fruit snack mixes, including no-salt ones if sodium is a concern for you (it is for me). I'm about to put an order together myself. I find having a decent snack mix in my office is incredibly sustaining, and keeps me from heading across the street to the student union for less-healthful stuff.

You might be less interested in the fruit, but I encourage you to consider seeds as well as nuts.
posted by humbug at 7:17 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]

Whole grain bread is very filling, but it might be an idea to bake your own*, and mix in lots of different grains for more density. Seeds are all very good, for instance, they have fiber, fat and protein, just what you need. Eat with nut butter and a seasonal fruit on top, and you have a filling breakfast or lunch.

I just cooked a dish of green lentils for lunch, and I put a potato in the pot, finely diced. It added texture and bulk to the lentil dish and transported the olive oil with all the aromas into my mouth very nicely. I do the same when I cook a vegetable soup, a little potato or squash makes it much more satiating.

Usually, I eat a small portion (30 g) of almonds in the afternoon. I know they are not so sustainable, so I often try alternatives. Haven't found the right one yet. I'm allergic to some nuts and seeds are a bit too fiddly for me in this context.

Hummus is the best! I prefer a classic chickpea and tahin thing, but there are many variations. A warm pita bread with shredded salad, a bit of tomato, some hummus and a couple of falafel is amazing if you make it from scratch or buy it from someone who does, but it is also something you can assemble from supermarket products and get a good and healthy and climate friendly meal.

Samosas are good too.

*because at least where I live, "whole grain bread" can mean a lot of different things, and it can be hard to decipher how much nutrition you are actually getting.
posted by mumimor at 7:31 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

I think a helpful addition to your approach to this is a body-mindfulness angle. At a fundamental level, hunger is not something to be overcome at all costs. Learning to sit with hunger—to be aware of it, to judge it, experience it, learn how it ebbs and grows and ebbs and grows, and so on—is pretty firmly anchored in the food/health science space.

If you're interested in exploring this, there's an app called Eat Right Now that is a good introduction.

I've been vegan since 1993 after growing up on a chicken farm. I eat a lot of beans and greens. I'm a big fan of tea and tisanes, so I tend to drink 1-3 pots of what have you during an average work day. I often feel hungry in the sense that I've associated eating with (for instance) sitting at a desk/computer during working hours, having the hosue to myself for a minute, traveling anywhere via plane, train, or automobile, lazy weekends, etc. etc. etc. As often as I can, I take those moments to (for instance) do a body scan mindfulness routine, or sit with a cup of hot tea and spend 2-3 minutes being aware of my senses related to it, or any number of other practices that bring focus and attention to those "hunger" feelings so I can judge whether they're associational hunger or if I actually need to eat.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:33 AM on September 22

Chewing gum helps me get through the "not full enough" feelings and cut down on snacks. I put gum at the front of the snack cupboard to reinforce that habit.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:37 AM on September 22

You will feel hungry until you've met your body's protein requirements. Yes, blood sugar crashes and insufficient fat also drive hunger, but appetite in general is driven by protein consumption. Meatless dishes often have way more carbs than protein, so you can feel stuffed but still hungry since you haven't met your protein needs yet.

Take a close look at the amount of protein you're accustomed to eating, when you did feel full, and how many grams a day you're getting now. If it's too challenging to get to that level with your current food choices, you may need to supplement with protein powder. They also make peanut butter powder with the peanut oil removed (like cocoa powder has the cocoa butter removed) if regular protein powder flavors don't appeal to you.

I also recommend swapping red meat for chicken 3x a week.

And also, there are some people whose digestive system simply cannot intake and utilize plant based proteins efficiently. Vegetarian diets don't work for everyone.
posted by ananci at 7:50 AM on September 22

I'm a hearty eater who needs to feel pretty stuffed to be completely satisfied, and my favorite way to do this quickly and efficiently is to eat a peanut butter sandwich.
posted by cakelite at 7:53 AM on September 22

Partner and I cut out red meat, eggs and milk, and reduced chicken to a couple times per week AND we were careful about carbs due to diabetes.

We were hungry all the time for the first 3 weeks because we couldn't get enough calories. It didn't stop until I realized I needed to use a lot more cooking oil in my food to make up for the lack of meat. As a child of the 90s and the anti-fat craze, it was tough to start adding multiple tablespoons of canola oil to my broccoli but not only did it taste better but was more filling. Fats have 120 calories per tablespoon.

We did cut her total cholesterol from 350 to 170 in 5 months so I'd say it was a success.

For easy meals, loading up japanese curry mix with carrots, mushrooms, potatos and beans on top of quinoa or rice is awesome.

Toast with a good balsamic and olive oil was also a great snack.

Asian vegetables with bottled chili oils are also great.
posted by just.good.enough at 8:14 AM on September 22 [6 favorites]

I forgot an important detail. When I was younger, I often got migraines if I didn't eat protein-rich food right when I got out of bed, and while I can easily skip breakfast today, I still feel better if I start big, and then slow down during the day. The perfect vegan way to do this is with ful mudammas , the Egyptian breakfast and national dish. It is filling enough for laborers in the fields, but if you need more, you can have a piece of bread with it. I always have cans of fava beans stacked in my pantry, both because they make an easy breakfast, and because they are perfect for snowing in/power outage situations.

In Cuba I've had rice and beans for breakfast and it is also excellent, but I haven't tried it at home, because ful is better.

Since I'm commenting again and many have mentioned fish, I'm going to suggest mussels for dinner. They are super-sustainable, the taste is amazing, and if you are uncomfortable with cooking them from live, frozen seafood mix is quite good for a pasta sauce with garlic, tomato, parsley and a few chili flakes.
posted by mumimor at 8:37 AM on September 22

I've had good luck with cronometer to develop a meal plan for myself. I wanted to ensure full nutrition, not just protein, fat, carbs, but also vitamins, minerals, fiber etc. It took me awhile to come up with what works for me, but I now easily go between meals without hunger.
posted by halehale at 8:39 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

I was vegan for a long time and was frequently hungry because I am prone to blood sugar spikes and crashes absolutely don't do well on a carb-heavy diet unless I'm very careful. I still limit meat intake by a lot similar to you and often have hunger/satiety issues unless I'm managing my diet carefully.

1) Get screened for pre-diabetes. This can be an issue with your body managing your blood sugar.

2) Only whole grains but you should really limit grains anyway because they still have a whackton of carbs and you probably get all the carbs you need from your protein sources now.

3) Fruit is 99% bullshit and will not help at all, but fruit is better than fruit juices (which are the devil)

3) Vegetables definitely do help and you should eat as many veggies with fats as you can

4) FAT IS YOUR FRIEND. Sautee the vegetables in oil. Drizzle them with oil. Olives are fatty and delicious and an excellent snack. Did I mention fat? Don't be afraid of fat.

5) Fat fat fat fat fat. You gotta eat a lot more fat.

6) Don't drink your calories unless they have protein -- for you, that means don't drink your calories, because high-protein non-soymilk drinks are gross af.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:46 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Did I mention fat? A snack of no-sugar-added peanut butter with carrots will fill anyone up. But if you're sensitive to sugar (which I am), peanut butter with sugar and carrots will leave you feeling bloated but still hungry, which sucks.

Once you get used to shifting carbs into the legume/bean part of your diet and out of the rest of your diet, you'll feel way better. When I am actually eating right on this kind of diet, I feel so incredibly good (better than just eating meat and also eating kinda junky carbs the rest of the time).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:49 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

I ran the numbers a while back and I'm pretty sure that if you're eating

- a huge pile of beans
- a huge pile of bitter greens (ideally fermented)
- something with potassium like potatoes or avocados
- a source of omega 3 (walnut/flax/fish)
- iodine (seafood, iodized salt)
- salt
- getting enough b12 (supplement or nutritional yeast or oysters or meat)
- getting enough vitamin D (sunshine)

then you're good. From memory, so I might be missing something, but I think this is the comprehensive list. (I recommend also adding something like fruit or blackstrap molasses or a square of chocolate for happiness.)

The thing that looks like it's missing from what you described is the huge pile of bitter, leafy greens (ideally fermented). Like, a whole head a day, every day. Collards are my favorite, very tasty, and they're very high in calcium.
posted by aniola at 8:51 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]

I am here to add another recommendation for small, oily fishes. Sardines and mackerel are very sustainable and also delicious, and eponymous as well.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:29 AM on September 22

Eat more fat. Also, if you are majorly reducing your consumption of dairy and chicken products, can you increase back up a tiny bit of other kinds of meat?
posted by bluedaisy at 1:59 PM on September 22

Returning to this ask because I am eating a much beloved recipe, and realized it might fit your needs: Kung Pao Mushrooms. Because of the nuts, it has a lot of fat and protein. The recipe is with peanuts, but you can use what works for you. And the recipe has soy sauce, but you can replace that with balsamic vinegar or Worcester sauce. It won't be the same, but it will still be very good.
posted by mumimor at 11:53 AM on September 24

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