1. Health 360°
  2. Lifestyle
  3. Nutrition

Flo Fact-Checking Standards

Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

How to Eat Less Without Feeling Hungry: 7 Cheat Sheets

When weight loss is the top priority, eating smaller portions and creating a daily calorie deficit delivers better long-term results. And as always, Flo is here to guide you through the process, showing you how to feel full without eating too much by making smarter choices. 

Healthy food habits have been linked to numerous benefits when it comes to physical, emotional, and mental health. The upsides to controlled consumption include:

  • Easier weight management and obesity prevention
  • Reduced likelihood of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke
  • Decreased chance of certain cancers (e.g., gastrointestinal and liver cancer), as well as cognitive decline and dementia
  • Stronger bones and teeth; plus, a lower susceptibility to osteoporosis, fractures, gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay
  • Regular bowel movements 
  • A stronger immune system which readily fights off infections
  • Fewer complications during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Better overall mood and improved memory 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever indulge in any guilty pleasures. But noshing on fast food and desserts should be the exception to the rule, not an everyday occurrence. It’s OK to have a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant on Saturday nights. It won’t derail your efforts as long as you’re on your best behavior the rest of the week.

A proper diet should include all the major food groups in the right proportions. For adults, this means:

  • At least one meal featuring a lean or plant-based protein per day 
  • Two servings of bread or grains per day 
  • Five or more portions of fruits or vegetables per day
  • Two servings of low-fat dairy (e.g., cheese, milk, or yogurt) per day
  • Two or more portions of fish per week
  • At least one serving of legumes per week

Other general rules-of-thumb to live by:

  • Non-starchy vegetables should compose one-third to one-half of each full meal
  • Consume small quantities of unsaturated fats
  • Added sugars should account for only 5 to 10 percent of daily caloric intake
  • Limit sodium consumption to less than 2,300 milligrams per day

Note that protein is an essential component of a well-balanced diet since it satiates hunger and boosts muscle mass. Relying on sources of lean protein (which have fewer calories than processed meats) is one of the best tips on how to stop feeling hungry. Recommended proteins (including vegan-friendly options) are as follows:

  • Lean beef
  • Skinless chicken or turkey
  • Pork tenderloin
  • White-fleshed fish
  • Eggs
  • Shrimp
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Legumes and beans
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds

Always opt for complex, as opposed to simple, carbohydrates. Complex carbs have a lower glycemic index, producing a slower, steadier rise in blood sugar. They also contain lots of fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Ideal complex carbs include:

  • Whole-grain breads and pastas
  • Sprouted and rye bread
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Legumes and beans
  • Rolled oats
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Vegetables

Certain types of healthy fats should also factor into your daily diet. Unsaturated varieties offer many benefits, but only in small portions, since they’re high in calories. Some examples include:

  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds (e.g., chia seeds)
  • Egg yolks
  • Low-fat dairy products like cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fatty fish such as salmon

Remember that the body’s nutritional requirements are in an almost constant state of flux. For instance, a healthy adult female will need more calories while breastfeeding. During menopause, on the other hand, the body exhibits slower metabolism, so it may be wise to adjust diet accordingly during this time.

Adequate hydration helps fill your stomach, sending satiety signals to the brain and temporarily suppressing appetite. Water is also believed to increase metabolic rate (or the amount of calories you burn while resting), at least briefly.

Furthermore, drinking lots of fluids during workouts and other physical activities prevents cramping, fatigue, and boosts fat-burning abilities. Lastly, water assists the kidneys in filtering out toxins, decreasing fluid retention and bloating. 

The ultimate goal should be to have at least six to eight glasses of water every day. And when it’s especially hot out, or you’re engaging in strenuous exercise, it’s a good idea to up that amount.

Some mistakenly think that alcoholic beverages don’t factor into caloric intake, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of these drinks are loaded with carbs and sugar, but very few nutrients. Cocktails, particularly those made with mixers (e.g., fruit juice), contain even more added sugars and empty calories.

What’s more, excessive alcohol consumption raises the likelihood of:

  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Serious accidents
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke

In contrast, moderate intake (i.e., up to two drinks per day for men, and one per day for women) might actually carry some positive health benefits. Note that one drink is defined as 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol.

What’s another great strategy for how to eat less? Give every meal your undivided attention. Don’t have it in front of the TV, at a desk, in the car, or between classes. Distracted eating is a bad habit that promotes weight gain. Your brain takes roughly 20 minutes to realize when your stomach is full. So if your mind is elsewhere, you’ll needlessly consume extra calories before feeling satisfied.

Interestingly enough, eating at a slow, steady pace helps you come to the same realization. Avoid overeating by spending at least 20 minutes on each meal. Practice taking small bites and chewing food thoroughly before swallowing.

Hot peppers (e.g., jalapeños, habaneros, etc.) contain a compound called capsaicin, which may decrease hunger while encouraging the body to burn more calories. Of course, additional scientific research on this topic is needed, but there’s no harm in adding a few peppers to your next meal!

Liquid and soft foods tend to generate less satisfaction and fullness compared to solids, because they’re quickly and easily digested. Beverages like soda, for example, gobble up your recommended allowance of calories and sugar, but still leave you feeling hungry.

Whenever possible, opt for solid meals and snacks to curb hunger, along with water or low-calorie drinks such as unsweetened tea.

Certain drugs trigger weight gain, alter metabolism, and increase appetite. These include medications used to treat:

  • Diabetes 
  • Epilepsy 
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Steroids and antipsychotic drugs have been known to produce the same side effects. However, not all patients will experience these symptoms. Discuss concerns with your health care provider and never stop taking your prescriptions without their approval.

The amount of rest you get has a huge impact on weight management and appetite regulation. Poor sleep habits alter levels of ghrelin and leptin hormones. The former increases hunger, while the latter supressess it.

Sleep deprivation causes the body to secrete more ghrelin and less leptin, boosting appetite and making it harder to stop being hungry. It’s also linked to intense food cravings and frequent overeating.

Similarly, high stress levels interfere with weight loss efforts by producing cortisol (or “the stress hormone”). Chronic stress further compromises your ability to eat on time and stick to a healthy diet.

Believe it or not, routine physical activity is another proven tip for how to eat less. It burns calories, regulates hormones, and manages cravings. 

Experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise per week.

Strength training, in particular, builds muscle mass ‒ upping metabolism and calorie-burning potential in the process. Regular aerobic or resistance exercises reduce your appetite following a workout, allowing you to eat less at your next meal.

Naturally, all these tips and tricks on how to stop hunger are easier said than done. The secret is to start with a few simple adjustments to your daily lifestyle and gradually work your way towards achieving those goals. 

It’s tough not to be hungry after a long, hard day at work, school, or home. Just try your best to make healthy choices when it comes to diet, exercise, and managing stress. Eventually, you’ll stop feeling hungry, lose weight, and feel better.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30215930

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901052/pdf/fnut-03-00018.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24847856

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038945

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3471136/pdf/nihms242610.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22258267

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22357722

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22383502

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/distracted-eating-may-add-to-weight-gain-201303296037

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=56&contentid=DM300

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/

https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/food-and-nutrition/eating-well/health-benefits-of-eating-well

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups

https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/about-us/news/blogs/benefits-of-a-balanced-diet

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress/faq-20058497

https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/use-nutrition-facts-label-reduce-your-intake-sodium-your-diet

Read this next