Are you constantly dreaming up your next meal or continually searching for a snack, even after you just ate? Unfortunately, you’re not alone in your hunger pains and food cravings. While these feelings are never favorable, it can be especially frustrating if you’re eating clean and wholesome meals but still aren’t feeling full or satiated. The good news is there are science-backed reasons for why you may not feel full after meals. The better news? Not only are we here to break it all down, but we’re also spilling some genius hacks on how to increase satiety so you can feel both full and nourished. So, if you’re wondering why you don’t feel full after meals, read on for all you need to know.
What is Satiety & Why Does it Matter?
Satiety is the sensation of feeling full or satisfied after a meal, or in other words, not feeling hungry. There are two hormones responsible for appetite regulation: Ghrelin and Leptin. Together they mediate energy balance — our hunger hormone Ghrelin is responsible for increased appetite, while our hormone Leptin is responsible for appetite suppression and increased satiety.
Here’s a few reasons why achieving satiety after eating is important:
- Achieving satiety helps us maintain a healthy weight since it may help reduce the chance of overeating.
- If we are feeling full and nourished, we may be less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and more likely to crave healthier foods.
- Promoting satiety by enjoying balanced meals is a great way to reduce nutrient deficiencies and optimize our diet with nutrient-dense foods the body craves!
Here’s Why You May Not Always Feel Full After Meals
Ok, so we know what satiety is, but how does it explain those post-meal junk food cravings or hanger pains that take over our mind and body shortly after eating a meal?
#1 You’re Not Eating Balanced Meals
Feeling hungry fairly quickly after eating may happen more often when consuming heavy carb-based meals that didn’t have enough protein or healthy fat to balance it out — you know like the on the go muffin for breakfast or that bowl of pasta for dinner. Read below for three tips for satiety to help optimize your meals to help you stay full!
#2 You’re Mindlessly Eating
A Harvard research study suggests eating while distracted (i.e. scrolling through social media and talking to your co-worker, while simultaneously trying to eat lunch… we’ve all been there) leads to increased calorie intake and weight gain. If you’re not paying attention to your meal, it makes sense that you will ignore your hunger cues and eat more food than you’re truly hungry for.
#3 You’re Eating Too Fast
Living in a fast-paced society has made us accustomed to a go-go-go lifestyle, including how we enjoy our food. How often do you shovel down your meal while driving, grab a bar and enjoy it on the go, or eat your meal while talking on the phone? Not only are we distracted, but since we’re not sitting down to enjoy our meal, we’re eating way too fast! This may leave us still feeling hungry as our brain hasn’t caught on to the fact that we are actually full (psst… eating slower may be one of the simplest tips for satiety you can try).
Feel Full After Meals With These 4 Tips For Satiety
Here’s what you really want to know — how do we satisfy our appetite while also staying full until our next meal?
Here are our three best tips for satiety that may transform how you think about healthy eating — and not only based on what you eat but how you eat.
#1 Get Balanced
Balancing your meals is huge here, and not only for staying full but also for nourishing your body with the foods it needs to thrive.
As a general rule of thumb, aim to include some sort of healthy fat, protein, and complex carb when putting together your balanced meals.
Here’s a bit more about each macro and some delicious nutrient-dense options.
Protein is way more important than just refueling those toned muscles we’re working on. Research suggests that protein is actually the most satiating macro, so getting enough in your meals is a super important tip to staying full.
Here are some yummy protein-rich foods to consider adding to your diet:
- Wild-caught salmon
Thanks to the keto and paleo craze, healthy fats have been having a moment in the wellness scene for some time now, and they make an important part of a balanced and nourishing diet to help us stay full. But, we need to be picky about our fat choices and keep them clean!
Here are some of our top picks:
- Nuts & seeds
- Nut butter
- Wild-caught fatty fish
- Olives & olive oil
When you choose your carbs, choose wisely. We want complex carbs that add nutritional value and fiber (fiber=filling!). Skip the refined, processed, and sugary carbs (like pasta, white bread, pastries) that do whacky things to our blood sugar and don’t keep us full for very long.
Here are some healthy complex carb picks:
- Rolled oats
- Sweet potatoes
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
#2 Try Mindful Eating
Let’s face it — most of us live a hectic and busy lifestyle, and the idea of sitting down for a meal that takes us longer than 10 minutes to eat seems like a foreign concept.
But, here’s the thing. Mindful eating makes one of those tips for satiety that can be a super valuable tool. Plus, if you make your meals a time where you can really take a time out from the craziness of the day and just be present in the moment, your mind and body may benefit (sign us up!)
And, feeling full after a meal also has a mental component to it as well as a physical — this comes from the satisfaction of actually sitting down and enjoying our food.
So, take as much time as you can and just sit without distractions (no scrolling through Instagram!) Simply focus on the task at hand — eating. Hey, you may even find it to be the most relaxing part of your day.
Try these mindful eating tips:
- Put electronics away (sign off social media, press pause on your emails, and turn off the tv).
- Be present in the moment by tuning into your body and the foods you’re eating. How does your meal taste? How do you feel while you’re eating your meal?
- Sit down to eat. Sitting in your car or in front of the TV doesn’t count! Remember: no distractions 😉
#3 Slow it Down
Along the same lines as mindful eating, we also want to make sure that we are actually taking the time to chew. While this may sound basic, when you practice mindful eating, you may be shocked to realize how quickly you used to wolf down your food.
And, since science suggests that the brain has to receive signals from digestive hormones to register that we are actually full, we have to eat slow enough for our brain to catch up with our stomach. Slowing things down may help you start to lean into your body’s cues, telling you when you are truly full.
#4 Increase Your Water Intake
Did you know thirst is often mistaken for hunger? More often than not, people eat when they’re truly thirsty as the signs for thirst and hunger are often similar. So, before you reach for a snack in an attempt to curb your hunger pains, try sipping on some water first! After 20-30 minutes have passed, check-in with your body and reevaluate your hunger needs. If you’re still hungry, grab a healthy (and balanced) bite using the above tips!
Nourish Your Body & Feel Full After Every Meal
Fueling your body with wholesome and nutrient-dense foods is just one step in achieving satiety. We also have to take into account how we are eating.
So, if you’ve been feeling hungry even after a full meal lately, try these three tips for satiety. They may completely transform how you go about mealtime, encouraging a more mindful, relaxed, and intentional way of nourishing the body and staying full.