Got a craving?
We’ve all been there: you only ate an hour ago, but your stomach gives a warning gurgle, and before you know it, you’re in the throes of a full-fledged snack attack.
While eating small meals throughout the day is ideal to keep your metabolism high and your blood sugar leveled, it’s also important to infuse those meals with foods that fill you up–foods that are high in fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats so that you feel satisfied and don’t crash before your next meal.
Here are 10 of my favorite foods that’ll help you stay on course!
Foods That Will Keep You Fuller, Longer
If you’ve been holding off from incorporating this fruit (yes, fruit!) into your diet, allow me to convince you with the facts: avocados are little packages chock full of essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid.
Related: 5 Benefits Of Eating Avocado
They’re naturally sodium and cholesterol-free, and they also contain heart-healthy unsaturated fat.
Plus, their high fiber content means they’ll leave you feeling satisfied longer!
Chop them up and incorporate them into your salad or quinoa, add some slices to the side of your omelet or breakfast wrap, mix up some guacamole to top on fresh fish, or even throw half an avocado into your daily fruit smoothie for a decadently creamy texture (you won’t taste the difference, I promise!)
In fact, avocados are so versatile, you can even use them as a healthier substitute for the saturated fats of shortening, oil or butter in your baked goods, or mayonnaise on your sandwiches (a one to one ration works perfectly).
2. Chia seeds
We’ve come a long way since keeping these seeds as pets!
If you’re looking for good foods that fill you up, don’t let their tiny size fool you: chia seeds are densely packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and calcium.
They also expand when placed in a liquid, creating a tapioca-like consistency when stirred into almond milk or yogurt. The effect is essentially the same in your stomach, as well, which helps you feel full.
These seeds impart a delicious, nutty flavor, so sprinkle them in your smoothies, on your granola parfait or cereal, into your rice or stir fry, or even into your bread dough.
The darker and leafier the green, the more antioxidant-packed it is. Which is why kale is way up there in the world of superfoods.
This veggie is insanely versatile – you can wilt it and top it with an egg, mix it up in a salad, blast it into a smoothie or add it to soup.
Related: 6 Health Benefits Of Kale
Put down those pretzels! Unhand that bag of popcorn!
Almonds are what you should be snacking on: they’re packed with fiber and protein.
I love a handful straight out of the bag, but they’re also amazing chopped on top of yogurt parfait, toasted and tossed into a salad, or even paired with blackberries to satisfy a sweet craving.
Just be mindful of serving size: 1 ounce of almonds (or 23 almonds) is about 165 calories.
Chickpeas, lentils, black beans – it’s all in the family.
Beans are a cheap, easy way to infuse protein and fiber into your meals.
Mix up lentils and green beans as a side dish with fish, whip up some homemade hummus to snack on with carrot sticks, substitute black beans for flour (a one-to-one ratio) when baking brownies – the possibilities are endless!
Related: 6 Health Benefits Of Kale
6. Dark chocolate
When it comes to foods that fill you up, this one has got to be the best. Who says you can’t indulge your sweet tooth while still doing your body good?
The darker the chocolate, the closer it is to its original form of cacao, which is crammed with healthy flavonoids and theobromine.
The more it’s diluted down with milk, sugar and butter, the less potent its benefits – so stick to 70% cacao or higher. Dark chocolate has been proven to lower blood pressure, and it’ll leave you feeling fuller than milk chocolate will.
As with anything, moderation is key – but pairing pieces with fresh strawberries or melting a few squares into a cup of hot low-fat or almond milk makes for a delicious (and healthy) cocoa pick-me-up!
Start your day with these little pods of protein.
Research suggests a breakfast of eggs will leave you feeling fuller before lunch, and could even curb your mid-day food intake.
Plus, a high-protein kick-start will help you maintain glucose control throughout the day – a great way to manage craving-causing blood sugar spikes.
Scrambled, wrapped, sandwiched or hard-boiled – the more creative you get, the less apt you’ll be to skip them for the empty calories of carb-based cereals or pancakes.
Like a broken record, it bears repeating: fiber keeps you feeling full! And apples are an amazing source of the nutrient; you’ll get about 4 grams per medium-sized apple.
Add to it the fact that the fruit has a high water content, and it’ll make sense when I say: bite into one 30 minutes before a meal, and you’ll find you eat less.
These little globes of goodness don’t need to be relegated to the snack section, though. You can cube them in salads, sauté them into an omelet (trust me, feta cheese makes a surprisingly delicious pairing), or scoop them in almond or peanut butter for dessert.
Call them the apples of the sea – scallops are 80% water, which helps aid in filling your belly faster.
Add to it that they’re lean, packed with protein, and low in calories, and it’s easy to see why you should make these delicious mollusks a part of your dinnertime routine.
Sear them and place them on a bed of quinoa or wilted greens, toss them into a salad, or skewer them on the grill with seasonal veggies.
10. Sweet potatoes
These orange-hued spuds have more slowly-digested complex carbohydrates and fiber and less calories than their white counterparts, so swap in some sweetness for a mashed or roasted side dish.
Remember: there’s fiber in the skins, so leave them on!
Don’t give in to the craving. You can combat the munchies by eating these wholesome (and delicious!) foods that fill you up and keep you satisfied all day!
Courtney Grove, MPH, RD, LDN is the Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem, Inc. Courtney has over eight years of experience with public health management and the implementation of community-based obesity prevention programs for both youth and adults. Prior to joining the Research & Development team at Nutrisystem, she worked with the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, as well as managed her own private practice.
Photo by Laurence Vagner