Whether you have weight loss goals or you’re working to improve your health, changing what you eat may leave you feeling unsatisfied, hungry and craving meals of the past. But making healthy choices shouldn’t be a bummer! Follow these 6 dietitian-approved tips to creating a balanced and exciting meal that will leave you full and satisfied.
1. Bulk up your meal. Tweak a well-known and beloved family favorite by adding more vegetables! For example, add cauliflower rice to taco meat or mix pasta sauce with your favorite diced vegetables. Doing so adds vitamins and minerals that your body needs while also giving the meal a new and satisfying texture. You can even use this method to convince picky kiddos to enjoy vegetables!
2. Paint a colorful picture. When building your plate, aim to create a stimulating experience for all five of your senses. Color is visually pleasing, so the more color, the better. Excitingly, the phytonutrients responsible for the vibrant colors of plant foods are known to have powerful disease-fighting properties. It sounds like a win-win!
3. Bump the fiber. Fiber does more than just support a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Having adequate fiber at each meal slows the digestion of food, which will help you feel full sooner and for longer. Aim for a minimum of 3 grams of fiber per meal or snack. Easy ways to increase fiber in your favorite meals include swapping enriched pasta for 100% Whole Wheat Penne. This simple substitution triples the fiber from 2 to 6 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup serving!
4. Add a healthy source of fat. Fat has a wonderful flavor, contributes to a smooth mouthfeel and increases dopamine levels, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain. Since fat has the most calories per gram compared to its carbohydrate and protein, it can sometimes be helpful to stick to individually portioned sources of healthy fats. Simple Truth™ Mashed Avocado Single-Serve On-The-Go Packs or almond packs are two easy ways to add fat to a lunchtime routine.
5. Remember the protein. In addition to fiber, protein can impact satiety through its potential impact on digestive hormones. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 15-30 grams of protein per meal. If salads are a go-to lunch option, round out your meal with a protein topper like Starkist Tuna Packets. Vegetarians and vegans¬¬¬, don’t fear! Many plant-based protein sources can be combined to deliver a knock-out protein punch. For more protein-rich food ideas, check out this article!
6. Be mindful. We live in a world of busy schedules and technology, and distracted eating can result in quick meals and overconsumption. The fact is, it can take up to 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Slow down at your meal by turning off screens and being present. Enjoy conversation or listen to music, put your fork down between each bite and savor the smells and textures as you chew your food.
Mealtime is a time of nourishment, but it also can and should be a pleasurable event. Building a more balanced plate and mealtime routine can go a long way in helping you feel fulfilled and satisfied after eating. But most importantly, sit down for your meals and take time to enjoy the plate you’ve created for yourself – you deserve it!
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Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.