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5 Healthy Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight

Healthy, diet-friendly foods between meals can curb your appetite.

A serving of blueberries can be a healthy, diet-friendly snack to help you lose weight.

Medically reviewed in September 2022

Updated on September 1, 2022

Does downsizing your diet backfire and supersize your meal portions? If you're so hungry that you wind up overdoing it at mealtime, try taking the edge off beforehand. These diet-friendly foods can help tame a ravenous appetite.

Nuts: Having a smidge of healthy fat about 20 minutes before a meal can help reign in your appetite. Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are good options because they contain fiber, protein, and good fats called omega fatty acids that may help fight inflammation. Nuts also stimulate the production of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that not only reduces hunger but also slows the emptying of your stomach.

Choose unsalted nuts that are dry-roasted or raw, instead of nuts cooked in oil. Nuts are high in fat and calories, so go easy on them. A small handful equals about one serving of nuts (1.5 ounces).

Dried plums: Thanks to heaps of hunger-quelling fiber, this wrinkled, dried fruit formerly known as the prune may help you eat less. One study published in the journal Nutrition Bulletin in 2021 found that people who snacked on prunes had less of an appetite, ate less, and lost significantly more weight over the course of 12 weeks, compared to their starting weight.

Prunes may help you drop pounds because they satisfy hunger in several ways. For one thing, it takes time to chew prunes, which gives your brain a chance to register that you’re eating and helps you feel more full. Their high fiber content also helps slow digestion and smooth out the release of sugar into your bloodstream.

One serving of prunes equals about three prunes.

Skim milk: If you’re skipping milk to save calories, you might want to think again. Milk is high in protein and bone-friendly nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D. Adding skim milk to your diet may pay for itself calorie-wise by filling you up, so you eat less of other foods. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2021 found that drinking milk before meals was associated with significantly decreased appetite levels and a 33 percent lower calorie intake at meals.

The USDA recommends that adults ages 19 to 50 get 1000 mg of calcium per day. One serving of skim milk (1 cup) contains 299 mg calcium.

Veggies or fruit: Starting lunch or dinner with some apple slices or a veggie salad tossed with a healthy salad dressing made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs may reduce the total calories you eat at that meal. Fresh fruit and raw vegetables are full of fiber and nutrients, and typically low in fat and calories. They take up room in your stomach, helping you feel more satisfied. Skip full-fat cheese, creamy dressings, and fried croutons. Most are loaded with unhealthy fats and can add extra salt to your diet. For salad toppings, consider healthier alternatives like part-skim mozzarella, lowfat cottage cheese, nuts or sunflower seeds, and lowfat dressings.  

Soup: Have a cup of this warm-you-up, comfort food and you may eat less at your next meal. One study published in the journal Appetite in 2007 found that eating soup 15 minutes before a meal was associated with 20 percent lower calorie intake at meals.  Go for broth-based varieties laced with filling high-fiber veggies, lentils, peas, or beans. Vegetable purees (carrot, butternut squash) are also delicious and satisfying. Just bypass soups made with cream bases, which can be high in fat and calories. Carefully read labels for store-bought and pre-made soups, which can be very high in sodium, too. Even better, make your own.

Article sources open article sources

Mayo Clinic. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health. Last reviewed August 2, 2022.
Cleveland Clinic. Cholecystokinin. Last reviewed May 25, 2022.
Harrold JA, Sadler M, Hughes, GM, et al (2021) Experimental studies and randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of traditional dried fruits consumed as snacks on food intake, experience of appetite and bodyweight. Nutrition Bulletin. 2021; 46: 451– 467.
Cleveland Clinic. Improving Your Health With Fiber. Last reviewed April 15, 2019.
Vien S, Fard S, El Khoury D, et al. Age and Sex Interact to Determine the Effects of Commonly Consumed Dairy Products on Postmeal Glycemia, Satiety, and Later Meal Food Intake in Adults. J Nutr. 2021 Aug 7;151(8):2161-2174.
USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Accessed September 1, 2022.
National Institutes of Health. Calcium. Last reviewed June 2, 2022.
Flood JE, Rolls BJ. Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake. Appetite. 2007 Nov;49(3):626-34.

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