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Nutrition Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

Tips to Stay Full Longer

Beat Hunger and Boost Satisfaction

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
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Eat More Low Density Foods
Calorie density refers to the number of calories per gram of food. Foods that are HIGH in calorie density contain a high number of calories per gram; foods that are LOW in calorie density contain a low number of calories per gram. Calorie density is the key to feel full without overeating.

When you eat too many calorie dense foods, you’ll end up consuming a lot of calories to fill your belly. If you focus on low calorie density foods, you can fill up on fewer calories because low density foods contain a lot more water, which adds weight and volume to the food, but no calories.

Just drinking a glass of water along with the meal does not provide the same degree of satiety. Research has shown that to reduce hunger and boost fullness, the water has to be in the food. Why? Because there are separate mechanisms in the brain to control hunger and thirst. If the food you eat contains the water, it will stay in the stomach longer while the food is being digested. Beyond that, there is also the psychological component of eating food versus drinking water. When you eat food, even water-rich food, you get more sensory stimulation because you have more food going through your mouth and you’re eating for a longer period of time, both of which help you feel more satisfied with your meal.

The following are all water-rich food choices with about 90% bound water. They can have a great impact on the calorie density of your diet.
  • EAT MORE broth-based soups like chicken noodle or vegetable. Be sure to look for soups that have less than 200 calories per 1 cup serving.
  • EAT MORE leafy greens like lettuce, baby spinach and mixed salad greens with fat-free dressing.
  • EAT MORE fruits like apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, strawberries and watermelon.
  • EAT MORE non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and winter squash.
  • TIP: Start your meal with a bowl of broth-based soup or low-calorie leafy green salad to fill up on fewer calories. Turn to non-starchy vegetables when you get the munchies. Continued ›
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I enjoyed this article. Sadly for me sometimes it feels like I am never full. Even with eating fruits, veggies, and drinking water. I have not looked into fiber but I will give that a try. It stinks that I seem to get full off of fast food more than real food. - 3/27/2014 4:46:46 PM
  • As with Lucsmommy, I am disappointed that Spark is still pushing low-fat & sugar-free. For a health-type website, that is so NOT healthy. What's up Sparkpeople? - 3/18/2014 7:11:19 PM
  • I agree with the comment regarding sugar-free and low fat foods. I gave these up as they are usually full of chemicals to make up for the lack of taste. I have LOST weight since switching to full-fat dairy. I also do not patronize McDonalds or Starbucks - I prefer real foods that are not teaming with all sorts of chemical additives and GMOs. - 2/13/2014 1:32:06 PM
  • I am really sad to see Spark still pushing "reduced fat" and "fat free" options instead of regular foods. The crazy crap in those frakenfoods is NOT good for our bodies in any way, and eating LOTS of good, healthy fats is vital to our brain function, skin health, digestive track, etc. - 11/8/2013 8:25:17 AM
  • Back when I wasn't paying attention at all to my diet I'd eat so much my stomach would hurt, and then an hour later I'd be hungry again and I couldn't figure out why. Knowing now that I'm insulin resistant (just found that out last year) and know some basics on how food works I realize that I was hungry so soon after eating because I was totally screwing up my blood sugar by eating a disgusting amount of carbs. By cutting carbs and adding a lot more vegetables and protein I can stay full a lot longer, and that's really nice! - 10/28/2013 1:12:43 AM
  • You can fill your stomach all you want, but if your cells are hungry they will keep you grazing even when you're stuffed.

    Carbs drive a horrible roller coaster of cellular hunger. The lower you go on useless sugar and starch the better you will feel and the less hunger of any kind you will experience. The low fat diet is a fad that has run its course - time to get back to the way nature made us to eat - dump the processed foods and eat fresh. - 10/27/2013 11:51:42 AM
  • AZURE-SKY
    I used to eat salad every day for lunch, with fat free dressing. I'd be starving in no time. When I wised up and started using an olive oil based salad dressing, instead of fat-free, I was less hungry. The healthy fat in olive oil slows down the digestive process, and increases satiety. The fat-free dressings are nothing but fake ingredients with lots of sugar. I'll take olive oil any day. - 10/10/2013 3:42:01 PM
  • for me anymore, satiety comes from flavors. I have this garlic chicken I make and I was really craving something yesterday, and nothing in the cabinets looked good.. I still had a piece of chicken leftover from Wed, and I heated that up along with some garlic pasta and some broccoli spears, and it really did the trick. After that, I was fine. I think I could have had anything else and I would have still had that "empty" feeling. I think I was just craving the flavor of the garlic. - 10/5/2013 10:11:44 AM
  • One of the most filling but healthy snacks I have had is 100g cottage cheese mixed with 100g broccoli. I blended these together and added water to make a bit of a soup which I took to work, I couldn't even finish it in one sitting and had to slowly eat it through the day. I think it may be a tad too filling for me though. - 9/5/2013 1:37:11 PM
  • I'm probably not reading it the way it was intended, but the statements about fat seem to contradict themselves.

    One paragraph says fat is essential for staying healthy and provides flavor, texturd and satiety.

    The very next paragraph gives tips on how to eliminate fat where you don't need it. How does one determine where they don't need it? As someone else mentioned, when fat is removed from a food, oftentimes the flavor is substituted with other ingredients such as salt or sugar.

    I've learned to work fat into my diet. For instance, I prefer to cook with real butter because nothing compares to the taste. I also eat full fat peanut butter because it contains heart healthy fat. I also eat whole eggs a few times a week. *gasp* - 8/25/2013 8:25:36 PM
  • This is a great article! I learned a lot from this. - 8/14/2013 6:54:31 PM
  • I was perpetually hungry. I attributed this to having a family history of diabetes. It is said that a sign of pre-diabetes is being constantly hungry and thirsty. When I started working from home and was able to cut out all the preprocessed foods, “diet” foods, breads and fast foods to be replaced with raw vegetables along with vitamins and lots of water, the cravings went away. (Cooking and microwaving food seems to reduce this effect.) When I went on a business trip and was provided junk food, all the cravings came back and hung around for a good three days until clean eating was resumed. - 8/14/2013 6:54:01 AM
  • I try to eat every 2 hours so I will fill full. - 8/7/2013 2:34:49 PM
  • The Like feature for facebook does not work. I click on in only to see a portion of my face. - 7/15/2013 7:55:21 PM
  • Add chia seeds to a salad, smoothie or whatever you want! When they are exposed to liquid, they expand and give you the feeling of being full. Check out this excerpt:

    Why is MySeeds Chia a dieter's dream food?

    When the seed is exposed to liquid (water, juice, soda etc) the soluble fiber on the outside of the seed-shell is activated. Each seed grabs onto more than 9 times its own weight in liquid, & holds it there. The liquid isn't easy to remove so your body treats it like a food--keeping you full like a food! The liquid coating (seen above) is removed slowly in the intestines, where it helps hydrate you and keep your digestive system moving smoothly & easily.

    http://www.mych
    iaseeds.com - 3/16/2013 2:31:29 PM