For centuries, many cultures around the world, have practiced the concept of eating moderately, or eating only until 8 parts of 10 are full. It's a basic way to stop eating before you are extremely full to let the body digest, absorb and recoup after a meal.
Food provides fuel for our body. It is meant to be enjoyed without craving for more. When managing diabetes, there's an added goal to keep post meal glucose levels in a safe range too. Strategies to feel full is one such way to combat post meal highs and manage weight, while also gaining meal satisfaction.
Strategies for Feeling Full
Regular Meals and Snacks
Include timely balanced meals. Skipping meals can make it challenging to curb hunger levels and may lead to a tendency to overeat later on.
Meals can be balanced by combining energy giving nutrients. Read here to learn more on the plate method- a visual concept to create balanced meals.
Carbohydrates make the biggest impact on blood sugars. The plate method helps keep carbohydrate intake in modest portions in combination with Proteins, Fats and adequate dietary fiber.
Fit in the Fiber
Volumize meals by adding more dietary fiber, the roughage portion of plant-based foods. It is not completely broken down during the digestion process and so does not add calories. It slows digestion and also contributes to intestinal health. Because of this, adequate fiber can help you stay full longer. Try combining non starchy vegetables with your favorite grain to volumize the serving
A recommended intake of fiber is 20-30 grams per day
Fiber slows the digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of glucose. This in turn can help prevent an immediate spike in blood glucose after a meal.
Protein and Fat
Consuming the right amount of protein helps you stay full longer. Include a source of protein with each meal and snack. Fat is also important. It can slow digestion which increases fullness and decreases appetite. Choose fats that benefit heart health more often.
Non-food lifestyle management to curb the appetite
Inadequate sleep not only leaves us feeling tired but it also makes an impact on our satiety hormones. Disturbed or inadequate sleep can lead to an:
- Over-production of Ghrelin – appetite increasing hormone
- Under-production of Leptin – appetite suppressing hormone
As a result hunger levels during the day can go up. To satisfy elevated hunger levels quickly, easy to digest carbohydrates such as foods with added sugars or processed carbs become more enticing.
Sleep well at night to eat well during the day!
Cope with Stress
The stress hormone causes insulin resistance and increases appetite. We may find ourselves eating mindlessly at times when our body does not need food. Emotional-eating and grazing can cause a resistance to Leptin. When this happens, Leptin loses its ability to suppress appetite and will leave you feeling constantly hungry. Instead, read here for some non food ways to destress
Hunger and Diabetes
Feeling extremely hungry despite eating well, can be a sign of hyperglycemia. Excess sugar that builds up in the blood passes out of the body through the urine and is not being used for fuel. This lack of energy causes an increase in hunger. The condition is known as polyphagia. Unlike a natural increase in appetite, for instance after being active or having gone long enough without eating, polyphagia does not subside after eating.
A short easy walk after a meal can be a great way to minimize post meal hyperglycemia AND feel full!
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugars can also cause hunger. In this case, there is not enough glucose available for the body to use for energy and it can lead to feeling hungry.
CGM data can be a great checkpoint to understand if glucose levels above or below your safe range is causing the increased hunger
Amylin is a hormone co-secreted with insulin from the beta cells in the pancreas. It slows gastric emptying which increases satiety. For someone with type 1 diabetes whose beta cells have been compromised by the body’s immune system, they produce no amylin at all. When someone with type 2 diabetes progresses to the point of needing insulin, they have limited beta cell capacity and produce an insufficient amount of amylin. In these situations, the person can be left feeling hungry even following a meal. Amylin analogues are injectable drugs used for those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They work similarly to the hormone amylin by slowing digestion and increasing satiety. They are a prescription medication and need to be taken under the directions of a medical professional.
GLP 1 Receptor Agonists are a class of medications that are also used for managing diabetes. These medications too can slow gastric emptying creating an increase in satiety. Read here to learn more about this class of medication.
Additional tips for hunger satiety
Volumize carbs with non starchy vegetables to reduce portions while also feeling full.
- For instance combine half cauliflower rice with regular rice, load up a pasta dish with a ratio of 1:3(1 part pasta to 3 parts veggies), choose broth based soups as a side or a meal in a bowl!
- Stick to your meal timings and include snacks only if hungry. Avoid eating within 2-3 hours of a meal.
- Is eating non hunger related? Reach out to your diabetes care and education specialist to help you identify and overcome non-hunger related eating habits.
- Use a hunger scale (1= Extremely Full; 10=Extremely Hungry). Gauge your scale before, half way through and after a meal. And if full midway-give yourself permission to stop eating.
- Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate with water.
- Here's a Ted Ed video on how your body know's it's full.