“I can’t eat another bite.” LJ gazed up at the cobalt blue sky; he and Annie had hiked early in the morning along the Thunder Mountain trail past juniper trees and cacti growing in the scarlet-red rock canyons of Sedona, Arizona. “This is what I call one satisfying experience.”

“What do you mean, the food or the setting?” asked Annie.

“Sedona is a combination of magical and spiritual. Our three-mile hike was just enough to work up an appetite, to enjoy this fantastic Black Tepary Beans dish and Navajo Corn Bread. I like that the ingredients were grown here in the desert.

“It doesn’t seem like you ate very much.”

He smiled, “You’re right; I’m experiencing satiety.”

Annie gave him the side eye, “which is another way of saying you’re full?”

“Correct. Satiety is the amount of time the food we eat keeps us feeling full. For example, fiber-dense, complex carbs take longer to digest, helping delay hunger.”

“Details, please.”

“Ok,” laughed LJ. “Ghrelin, the hunger hormone made by the stomach, is why you feel hungry. Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, helps you feel full. Cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone secreted by the intestinal tract, also stimulates satiety.”

“Thanks for the biology of satiety, but there must be more contributing factors, such as food, mood, mealtime, group or solo eating?”

“Yes, studies show protein has the most significant influence on satiety. Therefore, meals with at least 20 grams of protein appear to maximize fullness, contributing to weight loss. Calorie density also affects satiety and weight loss, so if you eat more foods low in calories per bite, like fruits and veggies that are also high in fiber, you can increase satiety – you don’t have to eat less food, just fewer calories.

Regarding mood, eating when you’re hangry can lead to poor food choices. If you’re eating several small meals throughout the day but are always hungry, it’s time to create fewer low-cal, high-volume meals. A baked potato is a high-volume satiating food with many nutrients, antioxidants, and uniquely a resistant starch known to combat insulin resistance. Baked potatoes also appear to improve and control blood sugar levels.”

“A baked potato drizzled in a little olive oil and pink salt can be satisfying and satiating,” said Annie reflectively. “There’s also quite a bit of information that shows too many food choices and eating in a large group can cause overeating. This is where mindfulness becomes important. A beautiful spread or multi-course meal with friends and family should not be a source of anxiety; rather, planning and even eating an apple before can help maintain a feeling of fullness. Slowing down between bites by putting your fork down, chewing each bite up to 20 times, and focusing on enjoying the fellowship can help avoid overeating and contribute to satiety.”

LJ nodded, “so let’s recap:

  • Satiety is a feeling of fullness after eating, which helps lengthen the time between meals.
  • Ghrelin, Leptin, and CCK are hunger hormones that contribute to satiety. Ghrelin increases appetite; Leptin and CCK decrease it.
  • Protein has the most influence on satiety.
  • Twenty grams of protein in a meal maximizes satiety and helps with weight loss.
  • Eating low-calorie, high-fiber foods, like fruits and veggies, increases satiety.
  • Eat low-cal but high-volume foods like baked beans, sweet potatoes, squash, Greek yogurt, soy, bananas, apples, oranges, cantaloupe, grapes, oatmeal, whole grain bread, and vegetable soups for satiety. Each stays in the stomach longer, helping promote fullness.


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