Maybe you decided to cut back on food in the new year and lose a few of those pounds you put on over the holidays. If that is case, it is entirely possible that you also feel chronically hungry! There is one basic strategy that will help you feel full and satisfied without destroying the healthy eating plan you have adopted, EAT MORE! First let's talk about the science behind why this strategy works.
There are two principles at work in our perception of fullness. The first is psychological. A recent research study presented in 2017 by British researchers suggested that what the eater thinks he/she is eating affects how hungry they feel several hours later. If they are fed a 2 egg breakfast but told they are fed 3 eggs, they will experience less hunger in the hours after the meal. Subsequently, if they are fed the same breakfast but told they are eating one egg, they will feel much more hungry in the hours afterward despite the exact same volume of food. Additionally, if there is the appearance of a larger volume of food on a plate, a person will eat and feel more full than if there is less food on the plate. This is precisely why diet experts recommend decreasing plate size to decrease portion sizes. If our brains think we are eating a large volume because our portion fills the plate then we feel more satisfied. Our brains are a critical aspect in the perception of satiety or fullness. If we can trick our brain then we win half the battle.
The second principle that contributes to satiety is biological. We have stretch receptors in our stomach. These receptors are responsible for sending signals to our brain that we are full which allows us to stop eating. If we compare the same numbers of calories of meat, oil and vegetables, the volume of these three is vastly different with oil occupying the least volume and vegetables the most. This matters because the same number of calories in vegetables is going to trigger our stretch receptors much more quickly than the same number of calories in meat or oil. I don't know about you but I'd rather eat a huge amount of vegetables than a small amount of oil.
So how do we put these two principles into practice? We fill our plates with lots of high volume low-calorie foods. Fruits and vegetables should occupy the majority of your slightly smaller plate. To a lesser extent you should add your grains and finally, if you desire, a very small portion of your guilty pleasure like meat or sweets. Happy eating!