At Byrdie, we're all about eating intuitively. If you're hungry, you should eat—no question about it. But if you're looking to control mindless snacking that doesn't leave you feeling satiated, there are some natural foods you can add to your diet to help you feel fuller, longer. According to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH and registered dietitian, the key to a satiating diet is all about balance and combining foods, rather obsessing over individual items.
"Whole, minimally processed foods that are combined to include quality protein, high fiber grains, vegetables and fruits, high water, and maybe a bit of red pepper sometimes helps create a symphony that brings different players to help impact the chemistry of satiety through hormones and compounds that are released in response to those foods, as well as physical factors like thickness and volume to help stimulate stretch receptors in the stomach and give us the feeling of being satisfied," she says. "In addition, these combinations lead to a slow sustained release of blood sugar to the bloodstream to help manage appetite between meals, and potentially reducing the appetite for the next meal as well."
If we completely suppressed our appetite, we wouldn't have the fuel or energy to keep our bodies going, since food is the body's main source of energy. So instead of turning to sketchy "appetite suppressant" supplements, turn to these more natural, whole food options instead, which will help you feel fuller and more satisfied throughout the day. Ahead, the 13 options dietitians recommend.
Oats are rich in soluble fiber, which is a type of fiber that becomes gel-like when it dissolves in water. "They literally 'gel-up' and help satiety that way," Bazilian explains. They also impact appetite reducing hormones, which help us feel satisfied.
When it comes to staying full, you're better off reaching for certain forms of oats than others. "Because soluble fiber needs liquid to thicken up, oats seem to be the most filling when they’re cooked in water or milk to make oatmeal vs. sprinkled on something or used secondarily as an ingredient as a muffin," Bazilian says.
Wild salmon is an excellent source of protein, typically containing 16 grams or more per serving. "There’s a lot of research to support that protein positively impacts appetite, energy metabolism and fat oxidation," says registered dietitian Brigid Titgemeier. "Increased protein intake through foods like eggs, organic chicken, and wild salmon can help improve appetite and energy expenditure while also increasing fat oxidation by 50 percent." Wild salmon has the added benefit of being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health.
High in soluble fiber and protein, chickpeas and other legumes like black beans and lentils slow your blood sugar response and take longer to digest, helping you feel full, Bazilian explains.
Titgemeier recommends eating a half cup of beans per day, if it doesn't lead to increased gas or bloating.
If you're looking for another excuse to eat avocado toast, you've come to the right place. Full of fiber and healthy fats, avocados are shown to help with satiety. This is for a few reasons—high fiber foods tend to be more filling than those low in fiber, and healthy fats digest slowly compared to other nutrients and foods. "When [avocados] are combined with other foods, for example, on toast or with other foods, they help stretch out or slow the release of blood sugar, creating a longer, sustained release of blood sugar which helps with satiety."
When you're looking for foods that can control your appetite for mindless eating, high-protein options like eggs are a good choice. One big reason for this is because protein digests more slowly than carbs. For a healthy, high-protein and filling food choice, try your eggs hard-boiled or scrambled with veggies.
For an easy and convenient breakfast that has potential to keep you full for hours, reach for greek yogurt. This powerhouse of a food is high in protein and water content, both of which help increase satiety. Don't limit it to breakfast either—greek yogurt is a solid snack choice or meal component at any time of day.
"Foods that are high in fiber cause the stomach to empty more slowly, thus helping keep you full for longer," explains registered dietitian Kristin Gillespie. "Additionally, many high-fiber, low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, help to make your meals look larger and give you the feeling of having eaten more. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, and kale are all high in fiber and water content, and are great options here.
Fruit is another great high-fiber food that may control your appetite and can help keep you full. These "create bulk and volume, lending a feeling of fullness, creating an opportunity to eat less while feeling like you are eating more," says registered dietitian Alana Kessler.
"Solid foods tend to be quite a bit more filling than liquid meal replacements like protein shakes or smoothies," Gillespie says. "This is because they exit the stomach more quickly due to their high water content and low bulk."
Almonds, walnuts, and other nut varieties are loaded with protein, fiber, and good fats—all of which are important in helping us stay full and satisfied.
"A study in young adults showed when foods high in polyunsaturated fats like walnuts were consumed regularly, beneficial changes were seen in appetite hormones associated with hunger and satiety," Bazilian says.
Apple Cider Vinegar
"Some preliminary research has shown that apple cider vinegar can help delay gastric emptying, which will help a person feel full for longer," Titgemeier says. She suggests adding one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a six or eight ounce glass of filtered water. Keep in mind that the study showing that apple cider vinegar may delay gastric emptying was small, so further research is needed before we know for sure if apple cider vinegar keeps your appetite at bay.
"Not drinking enough water is the number one mistake I see in my practice," says Rebecca Washuta, a licensed dietitian nutritionist. "This simple step can have a big impact on your appetite by promoting feelings of fullness. Research has shown that drinking water before each meal naturally reduces the number of calories you consume."
Some research suggests that coffee may help cut out impulsive cravings for food when you're not actually hungry. "Coffee may help to suppress appetite by producing a hormone called PYY, which stands for peptide YY," says registered dietitian Bansari Acharya. "This hormone works to signal the brain to promote a feeling of fullness."
And that's not all. Coffee may also help prevent you from reaching for comfort foods. "Central nervous system stimulants like the caffeine found in coffee increase the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine," Washuta says. "When the brain’s reward pathways are activated your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are increased, and when you’re feeling good your less likely to turn to high calorie foods for relief."