15 Hunger-Fighting Foods

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The day started innocently enough.  I ate my healthy breakfast, and I really wasn’t hungry after that.  A car trip later and I’m drooling like Homer Simpson at the sight of a Dunkin’ Donuts sign.  Should I or shouldn’t I?  One won’t hurt.  No, usually one doesn’t, but it does cause cravings--mad crazy cravings!  I find myself staring straight into the abyss that might be a downfall of super sugary and fatty portions.  I control it by driving through and getting one and leaving.  If I get any more than that, I’m in trouble.   
Surely you know the foods you eat that cause cravings.  They are the magical ones like chocolate that send you into another world with just a thought.  Everyone has their personal favorites.  We often concentrate on what we shouldn’t eat in large quantities or what triggers our hunger, but what about those foods that satisfy us?  Finding foods we should be eating that are healthful, tasty, and filling can be fun.   

Hunger sometimes has much to do with emotions and comforting, rather than true stomach hunger. (Stop emotional eating before it starts.)

It has to do with what others are eating and what time of day it is.  Hunger many times is just triggered by the setting of being somewhere or doing something.  Smell is a very strong hunger trigger.  So with all of these false signals telling you to eat, what do you do?   
What I do is stay full.  I keep water around at all times.  I also eat every 3-4 hours, so I’m in no danger of real physical hunger ganging up on me with some false signal and sending me on a binge.  I enjoy healthier comfort foods than I used to eat.  Fiber and protein both take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates.  Basically timing is everything.  Your body breaks down carbohydrates within the first half to two hours after you eat them.  During hours two through four, your body is working on proteins, while in hours four through six your body is breaking down fats.  This is why it is important to get a mix of foods at every meal and not wait longer than every 4 hours to eat. I have many favorite hunger fighting foods now, but for the sake of time, I will tell you 15 of my basic must-haves.  These foods are generally high in fiber, protein, or both and may have healthy fat included.   

  1. Veggie and fruit trays are wonderful.  They look pretty and cost no more than a big fast food meal.  Whether you want to cut up your own fruits and vegetables or buy them precut at the store, they are an easy to grab snack that will fix either a sweet or a salt tooth.   
  1. Nut butters are satisfying and quick.  They really last as far as a hunger fighter goes.  Most are full of healthy fats, protein, and convenient.  I like to pair mine with anything from whole grain bread and oatmeal to fruit.  A secret to making it spread farther is to microwave it for 15-30 seconds.  It can also be melted enough to be a dip.   
  1. Oatmeal is a soothing food.  When I’m upset or have a sick tummy, I get out the oatmeal.  I make it with milk rather than water to add protein, vitamins and minerals.  I especially like this for a night time snack and mix things like peanut butter, cinnamon, and raw stevia in it.   
  1. Whole grain cereal is a great sweet snack that is crunchy and rich with fiber and b vitamins.  My personal favorites are all in the Kashi line of cereals.  Be sure that the ingredients say whole grain _____ first and do not list enriched ingredients. (Learn How to Pick a Healthy Breakfast Cereal.)

  2. Fat free milk is a staple for me. I choose organic for a variety of reasons, and I think it has made a difference in my weight loss.
  3. Yogurt is a sweet dessert like treat for me.  I don’t buy light because I don’t particularly want the artificial sweeteners.  My favorite is Brown Cow Cream Top.  It’s a real treat to me. I also like Greek yogurts for their extra protein.   
  4. Whole grain breads, crackers, and pastas are great bases for sandwiches, snacks, or your favorite Italian cuisine.  Whole grains provide fiber and don’t digest quickly so you stay full longer.   
  5. Tomato juice and sauce are staples for me too.  I often find myself on the short end of my vegetable requirements.  Both ingredients can be used to make soups, pasta sauces and more.   
  6. 100% pure fruit juices make a sweet drink mixed when with sparkling water. It's a great to have a mocktail.  Sometimes a cool fruity drink just hits the spot.   
  7. Popcorn is a wholegrain snack that you can make in either healthy oil on the stovetop, as I do, or air pop.  Either way, it is yummy and takes a long time to eat.
  8. My favorite hunger fighting snack is an apple with melted peanut butter as dip.   The mix of sweet and salty together really crushes cravings.   
  9. Almonds are a simple fast snack that can last you for awhile.  Almonds are full of healthy fats and fiber.  I avoid the roasted ones with added oils and opt for the raw ones.  
  10. Cinnamon adds antioxidants and a spicy sweet flavor.  Often, I stir cinnamon and a little nutmeg into warm milk for a satisfying drink that's similar to those I can buy at a coffee house, without the hefty price tag!  It is really filling and soothing before bed.   
  11. Kidney beans are fiber packed and easy to whip into a salad with no fat.  Just add some of your favorite vinegar and seasonings to a can of drained kidney beans and you are ready to go.   
  12. Most fruits are very filling and keep the calorie count down.  They will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth. Keep a list of what is in season and when.  Then try all the new seasonal fruits you never thought to try before.   
You may have your own list of staples and I would love to hear them!  I’m always looking for ideas to stay full and lose weight.  I hope my list helps give you some new ideas.   
What are your go-to fill-you-up foods?

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I love cereal and oatmeal, but never thought of them as "snack" foods. Thanks for the great idea! Report
I love the Atkins Almond Cranberry bar - I have 1/2 in the morning & the other half in the afternoon. Celery w/ Unsalted Natural PB or 4 Brazil nuts (good Selenium source) will also do the trick Report
Thanks for your list. I have a lot of the same on mine, but the rest look yummy I love reading what other people find helpful. Not waiting too long to eat is huge for me. Report
I find that if I am feeling snacky that the fiber and water in vegetables really helps. Cucumber works the best for me! Report
Thank you so much for this article. I love easy, quick, simple ideas for healthy snacks and meals!!! I dont have the $$$ to buy organic or some of the more expensive things, but I LOVED the simple idea of heating a lil peanut butter and dipping apples in it! Guess what I'm going to try some of these ideas TODAY! Thanx again! Report
My go to fill up foods are apples and walnuts and almonds. When I know I will be away from my snack trove I carry half a peanut butter sandwich, an apple and some nuts and of course water with me. Report
Protein, protein, protein! If I want to stay full and keep my carb cravings at bay, I've got to eat protein and fat with my meals. I switched from yogurt and fruit smoothies for breakfast to home-made protein shakes and eggs, and from sandwiches for lunch to big salads with avocado and tuna. I stay full for hours and hours and hours and my cravings for ice cream, cookies, and all the sweets I used to love are basically gone! Report
Thanks for the list - good to know others have the same issue . i usually bring celery to work -- keeps me away from the goodies left in the kitchen Report
Don't forget that the kidney beans must be fully cooked. They can make you dreadfully sick otherwise. Report
I usually don't get hungry between meals because I eat the things you mentioned in my meals. Report
Great list!
Love apples almond and walnut.
Have them in my bag when I go on trips.

A half cup of low fat ricotta cheese and fresh fruit salad do it for me. This is often a breakfast. I love ricotta because it tastes so much better than cottage cheese. Report
A couple of new ideas -- that's always good. Like some other comments, I have a difficult time controlling the amount of nut butters but they are filling. Thank you for sharing. Report
I like sweet potato's. Throw one in the microwave for about 5 minutes and voila! I like them cold or hot. Sometimes I'll spinkle a little brown sugar and cinnamon and sometimes I like them plain. Report
Thanks for the great ideas! I have been really stuck with what to eat to help me feel fuller longer. Thanks for sharing. Report
Great list! I find that if I have nutritious food prepared and quickly available, I'll eat those. I'm also careful not to keep unhealthy snacks in the house. Fruits and veggies are my no 1 go-to snack food. Report
Thanks for sharing - I think I have a few new snacks to try out :) Report
Good list! All very satisfying.
I never leave home without an apple and an Extendbar!
Warm milk at bedtime is a must during cold weather...I add a teaspoon of vanilla. Report
Too many of these foods cause cravings. I don't dare open nut butters. I grab the spoon. Maybe these would work at maintenance but some of them seem to add a lot of calories to the days totals. Report
wow dunkin donuts, i have to close my eyes and pinch my nose closed while we drive by. Thanks for all the great items to snack on..... Report
3 oz Baby carrots & 2 tbs hummus is a really great, filling snack ~:) Report
I almost never go to Dunkin's due to the fact that I love jelly sticks and could eat 5 at a sitting!! I go to Starbucks for my coffee because their "goodies" don't tempt me as badly. Report
Soup helps me when I am really hungry but don't want to over eat. Only clear broth based soups like vegetable, tomatoe, minestrone etc. I can eat the 2.5 servings in a can of soup for minimal calories and fat. I know canned soup has a lot of sodium so I drink a lot of water too. Report
Great advice. Thanks for the suggestions. Report
I actually drink soy or almond milk. Both are lower calorie and fat than cow's milk and have more calcium and vitamin d :) They are great filling up your tummy also :) Report
I love apples and peanut butter. I get restaurant distributed 1 tablespoon packets of peanut butter so I don't have to be tempted to scoop more than I should. Report
what great suggestions! i never would have thought of melting the peanut butter in the microwave for apple dippers. My kids would love that!!! Report
P.S. My brother always says that if you eat the things you're supposed to eat, you won't have room for much else. Report
You're right about cheating. For me, too, it just starts cravings again. And then it takes days for them to pass. I think I "deserve" a treat, but I have to remember that I don't want or "deserve" the ensuing struggle. Report
I just love a bowl of sliced apples, baby carrots, and almonds. No idea why, but that combo totally satisfies me. Another emotional and physical satisfier for me is Vanilla yogurt (I make my own, so its not super sweet) mixed with a few nuts and raisins. Report
Most of the foods you mentioned don't work so well for me because they either have a fairly high sugar content (fruits, dairy) or a super high starch content (grains, legumes).

Both of those things (sugar, starch) tend to cause cravings for me, even when they're contained in natural packages like fruit or whole grains. (And boy do I ever hear you about those cravings. Nasty nasty stuff.)

Fat does help, but I have to be careful with controlling the amounts I eat, because it's packed with calories. I usually prefer to eat my nuts whole, because that provides a bit more fiber than when they're pureed into butter and it's a little easier to control how much I'm eating (since they're easy to count and track).

Lean protein and fiber are the two biggest aids to satiety for me.

So it's lean poultry or fish or soy or nonfat Greek yogurt for the protein and vegetables for the fiber.

Unlike other dairy, Greek yogurt doesn't have all the lactose in it that regular yogurt and nonfat milk have. The sugar drains out with the water, leaving a super-high protein thing. Report
I'm a big fan of the apple with peanut butter, but I have a serious sweet tooth so I add in a little bit of honey. it's an amazing snack - it leaves me too full to want anything else. I bought one of those slicer/corers and since then I've been eating a lot more apples =)
Also, cream top yogurt is a real treat, even for people like me who don't like yogurt.
I also like carrot sticks in hummus or bean dip. Report