- Following a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean settling for unsatisfying meals.
- To feel more full while following a vegetarian diet, try incorporating more fibre and whole grains into your meals.
- Incorporating nuts, seeds, and beans into your diet can help you to feel more satisfied.
It’s safe to say that there are a lot of misconceptions about vegetarians, with some of the biggest assumptions being that they’re always hungry or that their meals aren’t filling. But struggling to feel full after a meal can happen while following any diet – and expert dietitians and nutritionists said that it’s definitely possible for vegetarians to feel satisfied with their meals as long as they follow a few simple steps.
Here are some ways to feel more full while following a vegetarian diet.
Try to add plenty of whole foods to your diet
“The first step to feeling full when eating only plant-based foods is choosing whole foods,” said Nicole Magryta, MBA, RDN. Whole foods are foods that have been processed as little as possible. Some vegetarian-friendly whole foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.
Incorporating more whole foods into your diet might include changing your breakfast from heavily-processed heavily processed cereals to whole-grain oatmeal that’s topped with fruit. It could also mean swapping out side dishes, replacing a refined grain like white rice with farro, a whole grain that’s loaded with fibre.
Balance your diet by eating multiple food groups at every meal
“Get enough calories with nutrient-dense foods including avocado, quinoa, almonds, or beans,” Magryta told INSIDER. She added that to create a balanced plate, you should be including protein, fat, and carbohydrates into every meal and ideally every snack.
Fortunately, there are online lists of protein-packed foods, foods that are loaded with healthy fats, and even foods that contain both carbs and fibre and they can be useful to reference when trying to prepare well-balanced meals.
Consider incorporating dried fruits into your diet
To optimise calories,Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, said you should try adding dried fruits, such as prunes, into your diet. The fibre content of dried fruits can help you feel full and they have been shown to help preserve your bone density.
Bonci also suggested including citrus fruits into your diet because they’re loaded with fibre. As a bonus, consuming citrus can also help the body absorb plant-based sources of iron.
Don’t solely rely on salads
“If you just eat salad, you will probably be hungry,” Bonci told INSIDER. However, she said adding beans, rice, pasta, potatoes, or corn to your meal can help your meal be more filling.
There are plenty of vegetarian recipes out there that go way beyond a simple salad, so it’s worth trying them out to see which meals help you feel the most satisfied.
Eat more legumes
“Beans are often overlooked as a nutritious food but they are one of my absolute favourites,” said registered dietitian Jessica Jones, MS. Legumes and beans are typically loaded with fibre, which is known to help individuals feel more full.
One way to incorporate more beans into your diet could be enjoying them as a side-dish or cooking popular legume-centric dishes like lentil soup. Jones said lentils contain about 16 grams of dietary fibre per cup, which is 24% of the recommended daily value. They also contain about 18 grams of lean protein.
Don’t be afraid to add nuts and seeds to your meals or snacks
Some people avoid nuts and seeds because they are high in calories and fat, but Jones explained that these foods contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Topping salads or bowls of oatmeal with nuts, like almonds, and seeds can help you to add healthy fats to your meals while also making them more filling.
Find new ways to incorporate vegetables into your meals
“Vegetables don’t have to be limited to salad or stir fry dishes,” Jones told INSIDER. She said she likes to add vegetables to burritos or use them as pizza toppings.
Try to stick to minimally-processed carbs
“Make most of your day’s carbs minimally processed plant-based sources such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains such as farro, barley, oats, wheat berries, buckwheat,” said registered dietitian Rachel Fine, MS,CSSD, CDN.
Minimally processed carbs are high in naturally occurring (intact) fibres, she explained. She said they help to slow down your digestion and can help stabilise your blood sugar. This promotes satiety between meals and sustains energy levels, she added.
Opt for whole grains instead of refined ones
“Choosing whole grains such as oatmeal can be more filling than refined grains since the whole grains provide more fibre,” said Summer Yule, MS, RDN. The fibre in whole grains can help you to feel full whereas refined grains lose a lot of their fibre content during the refining process and thus may not leave you feeling as satisfied post-consumption.
Instead of eating noodles made with refined flour, she said you may want to try noodles made from chickpeas or spiralized vegetables, as they will contain less-processed grains.
Include more fibre and fluids in your diet
“Including more fibre, fluid, and protein into your meals is a great way to help you feel more full after eating,” Yule told INSIDER. This is helpful whether you are a vegetarian or not, she added. Some simple ways to do so could be by drinking more water or incorporating more protein-rich and vegetarian-friendly foods like Greek yogurt and quinoa into your diet.
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