VWPA Advice #027: How Do I Get Full!? Guest Post by The Vegan RD Ginny Messina
“Is it normal to be so hungry?”
I’m a new vegan-ish, as I like to call it. Although I have slipped up a few times on the dairy, I have not eaten meat in about three weeks. This is a huge feat for me because I, up until now, have been a MASSIVE meat eater. I’ve been wanting to go vegan for awhile but haven’t had to courage to make the change. Cowspiracy finally put me over the edge and I couldn’t feel better about the decision. Though it’s definitely taking some time to fully come to terms with and adjust to, I am excited for the journey ahead.
I have been doing a lot of independent research but my question regards nutrition. Things seemed to be going fine for the first two weeks, but I have been noticing the last few days that I’m not feeling satisfied by my meals even though I’m trying to take care to get protein in there–beans and some processed alternatives–as well as giving myself decent portion sizes.
Last night was really tough after I ate a good meal of cous cous, swiss chard, and broccoli but still felt hungry. I went to bed hoping that the food would settle and I would feel full but it just got worse so I got up and made two pieces of toast. After that, still hungry. So I had a handful of almonds and after that I felt full enough to fall asleep but still not super satisfied.
Without boring you with more details, a similar thing has taken place today at lunch and I’m sitting here with nothing else to eat and still feeling super hungry and frustrated. Am I doing something wrong? Is my body just adjusting to the changes? I’m super confused and I don’t want to just keep stuffing my face with bread just to feel full. Please if you have any advice, let me know!
Guest Answer by Ginny Kisch Messina, MPH, RD
We were lucky enough to see Ginny present at Vida Vegan Con 2015, where she spoke about how to prevent ex-vegans. One of the reasons she covered that people quit being vegan is feeling unsatisfied on a vegan diet, so we thought this question would be perfect for her to answer!
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on helping people adopt a healthy vegan diet, and stay vegan (and happy!) for the long term. She runs a blog, gives presentations, writes peer-reviewed papers, and has co-authored three highly-rated books: Vegan for Life, Vegan for Her, and Never Too Late to Go Vegan.
When people tell me that they aren’t feeling satisfied on their vegan diet, I suggest that they look for meals that provide a good combination of fiber, protein and fat. It looks like you have the fiber covered, but I’m not surprised that a meal of couscous and vegetables would leave you hungry. It would be good to add a nut or seed sauce to that meal—like a peanut butter sauce or lemon tahini sauce. Or you could sauté the veggies in a little olive oil—or sprinkle ¼ cup of chopped nuts on them—and add a veggie burger or cup of beans to the meal. Sometimes vegans aim for volume from lower-calorie foods—which can help you feel full very quickly but may not have much staying power.
So make sure that each of your meals includes beans, tofu, or veggie meats plus nuts, seeds or a little bit of added fat. And, of course, plenty of filling, nutrient-rich vegetables.