“Low-fat” labels are old news. Instead, claims to “manage weight” or “keep you fuller longer” are hitting store shelves, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel.
As our culture shifts its focus from weight loss to overall health and wellness, the food industry is taking notice—adding fiber and protein to everything from cereal to frozen dinners. “Protein stays in our systems longer, and high-fiber foods add bulk to the diet and slow the rate of digestion. This allows the signal from the vagus nerve to reach our brain, telling us that our stomach is full … and leading to satiety,” says Doris Piccinin, RD, director of Seattle-based Bastyr University’s master’s of nutrition, didactic program in dietetics.
The satiety trend has taken root in Europe, where American conventional food producer Kellogg’s has introduced “Special K Sustain” cereal to “help keep you satisfied for longer.” So far in the U.S., foods that claim to stave off hunger are mostly weight-loss products like diet shakes and bars, though other types of satiety foods are turning up more frequently on store shelves.
As the buzz around satiety grows, be sure your staff understands the concept and is able to suggest foods that can lead to a feeling of fullness. To help you address the needs of weight-conscious consumers looking to stay full longer, below, experts refine what the term means to them, and suggest their favorite nutritious, whole, satiating foods.
In order for foods to be satiating, they need to both taste good and fill the belly. Most of these foods contain fiber, protein, vegetable fats or some combination of the three.
“Satiety means feeling physically satisfied after eating a meal or snack, without the desire to eat more,” says Michelle Babb, RD, adjunct professor at Bastyr University. She tells her weight-conscious clients “the goal is not to feel deprived and hungry, but to eat the right combination of foods so that you are satisfied throughout the day.”
While feeling full is important, Judith Stern, ScD, professor of nutrition at the University of California Davis, believes there’s more to satiety than the physical aspect. “Psychological satiety means ‘this tasted wonderful, I really enjoyed it and now I’m full.’” Even for people trying to lose weight, Stern says, “I think it is really important to only eat good-tasting food and savor it.”
Piccinin advises clients to slow down while they eat in order to make it a sensory experience. “Being cognizant of where our food is coming from and reflecting on what you’re eating is satiating,” she says. “Even if we’re eating healthy, sometimes we’re eating at our desks, picking up a snack and picking up the kids. That can lead us to overeat.”
Try recommending the following foods in their natural forms to weight-conscious customers:
Top 7 suggestions for satiating foods
Beans are satiating because they’re particularly high in fiber, as well as high in protein, Piccinin says. Suggest mixing them into low-calorie salads and soups.
Avocados may come as a surprise considering they are high in fat, but that shouldn’t scare away dieters. Babb notes that avocados contain unsaturated fats “critical for satiety and important for different body functions.” She suggests the calorie-conscious keep in mind that half an avocado is one serving.
“Part of the whole satiety piece is that people are often neglecting protein,” Babb says. Eggs provide a mixture of healthy fats (mostly unsaturated) and a high dose of protein.
Nuts and seeds
“Nuts and seeds have a balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and some protein,” Babb says. “They’re a nice delivery system of all the macronutrients our body needs to feel satiated.”
“Quinoa is considered a complete protein,” Piccinin says. “It’s a good fiber source and has a similar amount of protein as a piece of bread and nut butter.” That combination makes it particularly filling, she says.
Potatoes get a bad rap for scoring high on the glycemic index, Piccinin says. She notes that potatoes are often studied right after they’re cooked, but once they’re cooled, potatoes’ starch is retrograded. Like gravy goes solid in the refrigerator, the starch in potatoes firms up when cold. “Cooled potatoes stay in the system longer, so they take longer to digest, and that’s why they’re satiating,” she says.
Customers know it serves up antioxidants, but dark chocolate also contains cocoa polyphenols, which can help circulation by dilating blood vessels, according to a study published in Clinical & Developmental Immunology. That cardiovascular response can be satiating, Stern says, but above all else, satisfaction comes from the taste and indulgence. “It’s emotional. I have to have one piece a day or I don’t feel satiated,” she says.
Tips for marketing satiety
Satiety’s greatest advantage is that it cuts across all food groups, so anyone looking to lose weight can easily find high-satiety foods—those that fill the belly, taste great, offer health benefits and are enjoyable to eat. To help customers get started, here are a few tips.
- Offer meal ideas by posting recipes that include several of our experts’ picks.
- Explain to customers the benefits of eating for satiety, says Jeff Weidauer, vice president of marketing and strategy for Vestcom, a retail marketing firm in Little Rock, Ark. For instance, remind price-conscious shoppers that healthy, satiating foods are not necessarily more expensive, because they keep a person satisfied longer than empty-calorie, highly processed foods that often cost less.
- Provide ideas on how to gradually incorporate satiating foods into an existing diet, such as adding beans to soups or topping yogurt with nuts.