Always Hungry Vegan: How to Stay Full On a Plant-Based Diet
Most people equate being a vegan to being always hungry. It is true that a vegan diet does limit your choice of food. However, it is also true that veganism in itself offers a great variety of foods to choose from.
Hence, being a vegan definitely does not mean keeping yourself hungry or having to live with repeated hunger pangs.
Here are some tips to fill your platter with a variety of healthy plant-based foods so that you can feel fuller for longer and do not have to bear hunger pangs.
Fruits are revered for their high fiber content. The carbohydrates in fruits are in the form of dietary fibers that add bulk to the food without adding too many calories.
These fibers can create a sense of fullness in the stomach and block the sensation of hunger for several hours.
The fibers work by expanding the walls of the stomach resulting in the stretching of the muscles in these walls.
The stretching of the muscle fibers triggers signals that notify the brain that your stomach is full. It is this effect of fibers that makes fruits a great way to feel full while on a vegan diet.
Some of the best high-fiber foods you can consume to increase your sense of fullness include papayas, avocados, grapes, oranges, and muskmelon. You can eat a fruit bowl with chunks of one or more of these fruits to feel satiated.
Eat More Beans And Legumes
Beans and legumes are some of the best nutrient-dense plant-based foods you can consume to improve your sense of satiety. Beans offer a great natural source of proteins, as well as several vitamins and minerals.
It should be noted that the initial breakdown and digestion of proteins in foods we consume occurs in the stomach. The digestive enzymes in gastric juice play a key role in the breakdown of proteins to form amino acids.
The high protein content of beans can stimulate the secretion of gastric juices in the stomach making this organ work harder. This can create a sense of having eaten more and thus, allow you to feel fuller.
This is why; vegans are commonly advised to eat high-protein foods like beans and legumes to be able to feel full and avoid hunger pangs for several hours after meals.
Just like beans, whole grains also offer a great source of proteins as well as dietary fibers. This is why, whole grains like rice, wheat, millet, and corn are considered a healthy addition to a vegan diet for creating a sense of fullness.
Another reason why whole grains are highly recommended is linked to the type of carbohydrates called complex carbohydrates present in them.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of long molecules of sugar that are strung together in the form of complex chains.
The digestive enzymes break down these complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates such as glucose. The glucose molecules, thus formed, are released in the blood thus causing a rise in your blood glucose levels.
Since the body takes a longer time to break down complex carbohydrates, eating foods containing this form of carbs can allow for a steady release of glucose in the bloodstream.
The steady release of glucose in the body occurring after eating whole grains can create a perception that your body has a good supply of energy. This reduces the secretion of hormones responsible for causing hunger thus maintaining a sense of fullness.
This is what makes whole grains like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, bulgur, and whole cornmeal good choices of foods to eat for preventing hunger pangs.
Choose Your Rice Wisely
Rice is one of the most widely available and consumed whole grains. It is available in several different varieties, among which white rice and brown rice are the most widely consumed.
Brown rice is considered more suitable for those who experience the desire to eat more frequently or those who get hunger pangs between meals too often.
The fiber content of brown rice is much higher than that of most other varieties of rice including white rice.
Additionally, brown rice is also more nutrient-dense compared to white rice.
Another factor that makes brown rice a better choice than white rice is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Research has revealed that brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice. This means brown rice can help to maintain stable blood sugar levels for several hours more effectively than white rice.
This can help prevent hunger pangs caused due to the dip in the blood sugar level that occurs due to the intake of food having a comparatively higher glycemic index.
These facts point to the benefits of replacing white rice with brown rice when you are looking for options to increase the sense of fullness in the stomach after meals.
Make sure that a larger portion of your meals, especially your lunch, comprises a dish prepared from brown rice when you know you have a long and busy day ahead.
This will add the required amount of proteins and fibers as well as complex carbohydrates to your meals, keeping you fuller for several hours.
On the other note, you should avoid fried rice completely. It’s usually very high in calories, fat, and sodium.
Mash the Potatoes
Potatoes, just like whole grains, offer a great source of starch, which is a form of complex carbohydrate.
Eating mashed or boiled potatoes can be a great way to fill your tummy with a healthy source of complex carbohydrates thus allowing you to feel full for longer.
However, you must choose healthy recipes for potatoes and avoid the temptation to eat fried foods prepared from this vegetable.
Eating fried foods such as potato chips and fries would just add empty calories to your meals without providing any beneficial nutrients.
Also, it is worth mentioning that McDonald’s fries in the US aren’t even vegan-friendly, as they use milk-based beef flavor.
Hence, it is advisable to eat boiled or mashed potato or prepare potato curry, possibly with other vegetables, to get the benefits of its starch content and feel full.
Similarly, you can also increase your intake of other high-fiber, starchy vegetables like carrots, radishes, beetroot, and turnip to get the most fiber out of your plant-based diet.
You can incorporate these vegetables into your diet in the form of soup, curries, or side dishes to pile up on fiber and feel full.
Bulk Up on Smoothies
Smoothies can offer an effective way to add bulk to your meals, especially your breakfast. You can start your day with smoothies prepared from berries, avocados, papayas, and other fruits.
The rich fiber content of these fruits will create a sense of fullness in your stomach and allow you to avoid feeling hungry until it’s lunchtime.
You can also relish a bowl of smoothies to fill your tummy between meals. If you feel hungry between meals and there’s still time for lunch or dinner, you can have a bowl of smoothies. The fibers in fruits will add bulk to the smoothies.
This will create the same effect as that when you eat fresh fruits by stretching the muscle fibers in the stomach walls thus allowing you to feel fuller.
Smoothies are also handy because you can freeze them.
Pop Some Corn
Popcorn is often looked up to as the best food you can eat safely without adding too many calories to your diet. The fact that popcorn is loaded with fibers is what makes it a great plant-based food you can consume to stay full for several hours.
So, make sure you stock your kitchen shelves with dry corn so that you can just pop some in a microwave. You can also make popcorn by placing some dry corn mixed with very little oil in a thick bottom vessel.
Heat the vessel on low heat while shaking it once in a while to have your popcorn ready to eat within one to two minutes. You can add flavors of your choice like pepper and salt to popcorn to make it more delicious.
This will satisfy your taste buds while also keeping your stomach full, thanks to the fibers, proteins, and complex carbohydrates present in them.
Increase Your Water Intake
Drinking one or two glasses of water can often be enough to quench your hunger and feel full. You can increase your total daily water intake to feel full throughout the day.
It is also advisable to drink a glass of water about half an hour before lunch and dinner and a glass of water about 5 minutes after your meals.
Drinking one or two glasses of water slowly in sips will stretch the fibers in the walls of your stomach further and help you feel full.
Drinking water is also a great way to get a sense of fullness in the stomach between meals. You can simply drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry to have your stomach feel full.
For example; you can drink water when you are feeling hungry but there is still some time for your meal.
You can also consume fruits having high water content such as watermelon and muskmelon to increase your total fluid content throughout the day.
Oatmeal is another fiber-rich food that can help you feel fuller for several hours. Oatmeal can be a good choice for your breakfast and lunch, given the high content of both fibers and proteins in it.
It will add bulk to your meals and create a sense of fullness in the stomach.
Also, one research study published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition has revealed that instant oatmeal can suppress appetite and increase satiety more effectively than ready-to-eat oat-based cereals.
Hence, it is advisable to prepare instant oatmeal prepared at home rather than relying on ready-to-eat oat-based cereal.
Relish Dried Fruits
Dried fruits can be good choices to experience a sense of fullness in the stomach. You can consider adding dried fruits like almonds, prunes, and walnuts to your regular diet.
You can also eat a handful of these dried fruits between meals whenever you feel hungry.
The fiber and protein content of dried fruits would help you feel full while also providing a natural plant-based source of several vitamins and minerals.
The complex carbohydrates in almonds and walnuts will also help you maintain stable blood sugar levels and thus, control the secretion of hunger hormones in your brain.
One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has revealed that mixed nuts can promote satiety by maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
Mixed nuts can regulate the secretion of a hormone called leptin, which decreases the appetite, and reduce the secretion of a hormone called Ghrelin, which increases the appetite.
This favorable balance of hormones would prevent hunger pangs.
Snack on Nuts and Seeds
You can snack on a handful of nuts and seeds between meals to relieve hunger pangs.
Nuts and seeds are revered for the healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats they provide.
You can top your salads or the bowl of oatmeal with nuts like Brazil nuts and peanuts and seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds to add healthy fats to your meals while making your dishes more filling.
Another effective way to feel full is to soak a teaspoonful of chis seeds in a small bowl of water overnight and consume it in the morning. These seeds tend to absorb water and swell.
Eating these seeds first thing in the morning will create a long-lasting sense of fullness in your stomach.
Just because you have adopted a vegan diet, it does not mean you are left with a very limited choice of foods.
There is a great variety of plant-based foods that you can add to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner and relish for your mid-meal snacking sessions to feel fuller.
Follow the simple strategies discussed above so that you are able to feel full and avoid the feeling of being deprived of tasty and delicious foods while on a vegan diet.
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