During week 2 we discussed simple ways to swap out animal protein for plant protein. For week 3 of our 4-Weeks to Plant Power challenge, we’re going to focus on making meals satiating and satisfying by including fiber and healthy plant fats.
Do you ever find yourself ravenous or exhausted an hour after eating? That’s a good indication that your meal wasn’t balanced enough to keep you full (satiated) or prevent your energy from dipping into a slump. We’re here to help you learn how to build meals and snacks so you can get off (and stay off) the energy roller coaster.
Fats were the villain of years past when fat-free diets were all the rage. Luckily for our health (and our taste buds), we now know we need certain types of fat in our diet. Fats have lots of functions in our body – they provide energy, help us absorb certain vitamins, and make up crucial parts of cells, just to name a few.
There are many types of fats, but we’ll keep our focus on plant foods that contain the kinds that benefit our health.
When you add healthy fats to your meals and snacks, the food you ate actually hangs out a little longer in your stomach before moving along in the digestive system. Fats also help your stomach send a signal to the brain that you’re full. Both of these effects give you that feeling of fullness and satisfaction, which prevents overeating and helps with weight management.
Fiber is another important nutrient that contributes to that full and satisfying feeling after a meal. If you just conjured up an image of oat bran, we’re here to set the record straight. There are plenty of tasty foods that are chock full of it.
What is fiber? Fiber is a type of carb found in many plant foods, but we can’t actually digest it for energy. It makes the full journey through our digestive system, and that’s the key to it’s health benefits. While we can’t digest fiber for our own use, our gut bacteria can. In fact – it’s their favorite food. Since fiber is bulky and takes up space, when you eat higher fiber foods, it fills up your stomach faster than low fiber foods, making you feel full more quickly. Your body also takes more time to digest those foods that contain fiber, and slowing down the digestive process keeps you satiated, satisfied, and energized. To get the most benefit from eating fiber, it’s best to get it from food, rather than fiber supplements or additives. Here are some good options to include in your meals:
The amount of fiber in fruits and veggies varies, so be sure to eat a variety of them for peak fiber intake!
Pro-tip: when introducing more fiber go slow and drink plenty of water to prevent digestive upset.
Eating snacks can help us sustain our energy between meals. Grabbing a bag of chips or a cookie might give us a brief spike, only to result in a sugar crash shortly after. Making your snack balanced with healthy fats, carbs with fiber, and protein will help you make it from lunchtime to dinner without dipping into “hangry” territory.
When putting together a snack, try to follow this guide (bonus points for veggies!):
Here are some plant-based snack ideas to get you started:
During week 1 we talked about increasing veggies and in week 2 we talked about including plant-based proteins at meals. Adding carbs with fiber and healthy fats to your meals help complete the Brook Healthy Plate. All of those components together can be used to create well-balanced meals that give you sustained energy and prevent the feeling of dips and spikes throughout the day.
on May 26, 2020. Heather is a Certified Diabetes Educator, has been a Registered Dietitian for over 12 years and is Brook's Health Director.