Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog -  Get Your Fill With Plant-Based Foods 4666

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Get Your Fill With Plant-Based Foods


Anyone who complains that a plant-based diet isn’t filling may not be eating the right plant-based foods. No matter what you’re eating, feeling full often has more to do with satiety — feeling comfortably full and no longer hungry — than simply filling your belly.

Blog 3 in our Plant-Based Food Series!

When you eat a plant-based diet, it’s not about putting more plant foods on your plate. Stuffing yourself at a meal can make you sleepy, says #healthynurse Jane Esselstyn, RN. Jane is an author, educator, and presenter passionate about whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. “The goal of eating is to feel energized,” she adds. “What you want from a meal is to come away satisfied and not hungry.”

Tips for Creating Filling Plant-Based Meals
The key to a full and satisfying meal is knowing how plant foods affect you and how to use them together. Jane offers her recommendations for building meals with satiating power:

Focus on fiber
Fiber is the star when it comes to feeling satiated. It takes time to digest, helping you feel fuller longer. One study found that no matter how many calories participants consumed, upping fiber consumption promoted weight loss and helped them stick to their eating plan.

“If you pay attention, your stomach will tell you how full it is,” Jane says. “Plant foods are full of fiber and water, which add to that feeling of fullness.”

Skip processed plant-based food
Grabbing packaged plant-based food off grocery store shelves can be tempting. But whole plant foods will always fill you up more than processed plant-based foods. Processing the food removes some of the plant’s natural dietary fiber, making it easier to digest but less filling.

Jane recommends thinking of your body as a race car. If you put diesel fuel in it, it will still run, but the dirty fuel will eventually clog the engine. If you use high-octane fuel, it will enable the car to run efficiently and perform well. “You optimize your health by fueling your body with the purest foods,” Jane says.

Opt for wet starches
Eating a starch-based, whole-food diet can help you feel satisfied and full. But not all starches are created equal. Wet starches — whole food starches left in their natural state, such as potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, and rice — expand and absorb water during cooking.

“The high water content in wet starches makes them a filling base for plant-based meals,” Jane says. “You’ll feel full and satisfied without ever counting calories.”

Include plant-based protein
Protein doesn’t take as long to digest as fiber, but it’s a more filling option than carbohydrates. It also helps keep your blood sugar stable. Pairing plant-based protein, such as tofu, beans, and nuts, with a high-fiber meal is a surefire way to keep hunger pangs at bay.

But Jane warns that you should be careful about overdoing it on the protein. According to the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR), getting anywhere from 10% to 35% of your calories from protein is healthy.

“Many of the issues we deal with in the clinical setting come from eating too much protein,” Jane says. “Some people need a low-protein diet for health reasons, like kidney issues. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the right amount of protein for you.”

Don’t forget to add some healthy fat
Adding whole food sources of healthy fats can increase satiety, making filling foods more satisfying. Get more bang for your buck by choosing healthy fats that are also high in fiber. Nuts, avocado, and chia seeds can add texture, improve flavor, and take longer to break down.

Filling Foods to Have on Hand
When you need a hearty and filling meal, it helps to have the right foods at your fingertips. Stock your pantry with:
  • Fruits, which are full of fiber and can be stored fresh or frozen
  • Legumes, including beans, lentils, and tofu, for a meal rich in fiber and protein
  • Vegetables, which provide vital nutrients and fiber
  • Whole grains, such as oats and rice, which can serve as a filling foundation for any meal

Plant-Based Recipes That Will Fill You Up
Don’t be afraid to play with food combinations and flavors until you find satisfying meals that keep you feeling energized and full.

Do you eat a plant-forward diet? If so, what are your go-to plant foods when you want to feel full? Share with us in our discussion below.

Not a member of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) yet? Join today!
Sign up for our monthly challenges!

Blog Nutrition 02/14/2024 3:02pm CST

Post a Comment or Question


I enjoy a good blackbean burger instead of a hamburger with baked sweet potato fires 


41 Posts 6
It isn't easy to find time for healthy eating. One average, nurses consume less fruits, veggies, and whole grains than other Americans. This domain covers recommended guidelines for dietary health, managing diet at work, and overcoming barriers to nutrition.