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How to Stop Feeling Hungry Between Meals

You ate breakfast only two hours ago, but a quick, microwavable snack is calling your name before your regular lunchtime . Does this craving sound familiar? You know you should not be hungry yet, but your stomach is trying to tell you another story. The bad news? We can’t make your favorite snack less delicious. The good news? There are ways to curb your appetitelike drinking Metamucil with each meal —so you can feel less hungry in between meals.*

Keep reading to learn about how to stop feeling hungry between meals.

Why Do We Feel Hungry?

Hunger is not necessarily caused by an empty stomach. Hunger can be physiological—driven by your body’s needs for more calories to balance energy levels. Hunger can also be psychological—driven by a strong desire to eat and enjoy certain foods.

But why do we feel hungry? Hunger is part of the “satiety cascade,” a series of events that begin with an appetite and end after we finish a meal.1 Satiety is the physiological state at the end of a meal when you don’t feel like eating anymore.1

What Triggers Hunger?

The signals that control hunger are complex. However, one key mediator of hunger is gastric motility; which is the movement of food through the digestive tract, which is influenced by the sensation of fullness.2 Your gut can sense how much food you have in your digestive tract and communicates this information to the brain through chemical signals.2 You may have heard of the “hunger hormone” called ghrelin. Ghrelin is involved in feelings of hunger, whether we need food for energy balance or just want it because we crave it.3

When your stomach is empty, you may hear or feel some rumbling, indicating hunger. These rumbling sounds are from muscle contractions that help clear your stomach and get it ready to receive your next meal.2 When the stomach and small intestine are less full, the movement of the contents can sound louder, as the presence of food often dampens these sounds.

How to Stop Feeling Hungry and Curb Your Appetite

It’s important to keep your body nourished and fed so you can have the energy you need to tackle the day. But that also doesn’t mean indulging every craving that comes your way. The key is balance, and learning how to control hunger so it doesn’t control you.

11 Ways to Practice Appetite Control

1. Eat a High-Protein Breakfast

You’ll want to add an extra egg or two to your regular breakfast order starting today. Consuming a high-protein breakfast may help to prevent those hunger triggers well into the day. Your body digests protein differently from carbs. It takes longer to break down protein, which explains why it can curb your appetite.4

2. Eat High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods can make you feel full and reduce your appetite.5 A fiber-rich diet generally includes foods that are low in energy density and plant based, like fruits and vegetables. When comparable volumes of high energy dense and low energy dense foods are eaten, they have similar impacts on our immediate desire to eat, but provide different amounts of calories to the body.6 The idea being you can eat more low energy, dense foods without getting the extra calories you would have if you ate the same amount of a food that had a higher energy density. Examples of fiber-rich foods include pecans, raspberries, kidney beans, peas, lentils, chia seeds, and snacks like Metamucil Chocolate Fiber Thins which provide 5 grams of fiber with just 100 calories per serving.

3. Drink a glass of Metamucil before each meal

The psyllium fiber in Metamucil can do more than increase your fiber intake. Psyllium fiber can influence the “satiety cascade”—making you feel less hungry in-between your meals.* You can use Metamucil as an appetite control supplement by taking 2 rounded spoons with each meal, up to 3 times per day. Follow the instructions on the package to see whether you should be using a teaspoon or tablespoon.

The “satiety effect” of psyllium was observed in recent studies of psyllium that demonstrated when psyllium is taken with a meal it can decrease hunger between meals and prolong the feeling of fullness from your meal.6

The gel formed by the psyllium fiber in Metamucil in your stomach can help you feel fuller longer.* It pushes on the walls of your stomach, which then sends signals of fullness to your brain. Metamucil helps curb your cravings between meals* so you can focus on tackling your day, instead of daydreaming about your favorite snacks.

4. Eat 3 Square Meals per Day Regularly

One way to control your appetite is to keep the hunger hormone, ghrelin, in check. Research shows that ghrelin rises around the time when you’re expecting a meal.7 Therefore, eating three meals per day (packed with balanced nutrients, of course) can help keep your ghrelin levels stable. If you snack at irregular times during the day, your ghrelin levels will also be irregular and may cause you to feel hungry many times within 24 hours.

5. Drink lots of water

Drinking a bottle of water before a meal is enough to stretch the stomach.8 When this happens, your stomach sends signals to your brain to communicate fullness. You can also help add to that feeling of fullness by stirring in 1-2 rounded spoons of Metamucil into your glass of water. Read the package to see if the serving size requires teaspoons or tablespoons.

6. Get enough sleep every day

Go get some shut eye—7-8 hours of sleep every night, to be exact. When you don’t get enough sleep, studies show that you can become more responsive to food stimuli.9 The parts of your brain that are associated with emotional responses to stimuli, motivation, and reward systems become more activated when you don’t get enough rest.9 This means that you may feel hungry more often when you haven’t slept well

7. Exercise regularly

In the 30 minutes following intense exercise, the levels of ghrelin in your gut can decrease. However, ghrelin only decreases when you do high-intensity exercise.10 So make sure you choose your workout routine wisely to keep hunger at bay. Plus, exercise is good for your body in so many other ways, aside from just reducing your appetite.

8. Master Your Psychological Cravings

You may already know the specific foods that you associate with safety and comfort. Whether you crave a slice (or two) of pizza, a bag of fresh fries, or a steaming bowl of fried rice, you know these foods will make you want to indulge if they’re handy. Master your cravings. Don’t keep the foods you just can’t resist lying around the pantry. Keep healthy snacks in your car and house to stay on track with your health goals.

9. Practice Portion Control

The more food you put on your plate, the more you eat.11 If you find yourself using a large plate or packing your dinner bowl with too much, make a conscious effort to decrease your portion size. That could mean measuring out recommended portion sizing based on your meal. That could also mean not going for the second helping of dinner, and instead, saving the leftovers for lunch the following day.

10. Practice mindful eating

Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.12 Practicing mindfulness when you are eating can help you become more aware of what’s on your plate or in your food—and ultimately help you eat less junk. When you are mindful of what you eat, you are more likely to make healthy food choices, like fiber-rich foods that can help you curb your appetite.

11. Be Aware of Your Stress Levels

Stress can increase the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, increases your desire to eat and makes you crave sugary, salty, and fatty foods.13 The best way to overcome stress is to solve the underlying issues that are causing it, and if they can’t be solved right away, find ways to relax.13

  1. Amin T, Mercer JG. Hunger and Satiety Mechanisms and Their Potential Exploitation in the Regulation of Food Intake. Curr Obes Rep. 2016;5:106-112. doi:10.1007/s13679-015-0184-5

  2. Janssen P, Berghe PV, Verschueren S, Lehmann A, Depoortere I, Tack J. Review article: the role of gastric motility in the control of food intake. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011;33(8):880-894. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04609.x

  3. Howick K, Griffin BT, Cryan JF, Schellekens H. From Belly to Brain: Targeting the Ghrelin Receptor in Appetite and Food Intake Regulation. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(2). doi:10.3390/ijms18020273

  4. Publishing HH. Extra protein at breakfast helps control hunger. Harvard Health. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/extra-protein-at-breakfast-helps-control-hunger

  5. Chambers L, McCrickerd K, Yeomans MR. Optimising foods for satiety. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2015;41(2):149-160. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2014.10.007

  6. Brum JM, Gibb RD, Peters JC, Mattes RD. Satiety effects of psyllium in healthy volunteers. Appetite. 2016;105:27-36. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.041

  7. Frecka JM, Mattes RD. Possible entrainment of ghrelin to habitual meal patterns in humans. Am J Physiol-Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2008;294(3):G699-G707. doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00448.2007

  8. Corney RA, Sunderland C, James LJ. Immediate pre-meal water ingestion decreases voluntary food intake in lean young males. Eur J Nutr. 2016;55(2):815-819. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0903-4

  9. St-Onge M-P, McReynolds A, Trivedi ZB, Roberts AL, Sy M, Hirsch J. Sleep restriction leads to increased activation of brain regions sensitive to food stimuli. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(4):818-824. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.027383

  10. Decreasing and increasing appetite through exercise. MSU Extension. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/decreasing_and_increasing_appetite_through_exercise

  11. Vartanian LR, Reily NM, Spanos S, Herman CP, Polivy J. Self-reported overeating and attributions for food intake. Psychol Health. 2017;32(4):483-492. doi:10.1080/08870446.2017.1283040

  12. Better Eating through Mindfulness. Greater Good. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/better_eating_through_mindfulness

  13. How Stress Can Make You Eat More -- Or Not At All. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Published July 1, 2020. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-stress-can-make-you-eat-more-or-not-at-all/

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