Have you been falling into the midafternoon trap of reaching for fatty, unhealthy snacks? The problem could be your choice of midday meal. Many times, people aren’t aware that their choices are causing them to feel famished in a few hours. Try these lunch tips for staying full longer, and you’ll be less likely to visit the vending machine at 3 o’clock.

Increase Your Protein

Protein has the staying power to keep you from experiencing premature hunger pangs. This makes it a great base for any lunch entrée or appetizer, whether it’s a cold salad or a hot meal. Good sources of protein include meats and seafood, as well as dairy, eggs and beans.

Have a Little Heart-Healthy Fat

You don’t want to overdo it with fats at lunchtime, but you can certainly feel comfortable having some heart-healthy oils, nuts, olives and similar items in your meal. Fats stay in your system, and have been linked to improved cardiovascular performance and better joint health. This is especially true of foods with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, spinach and soybeans.

Drink Up

We’re talking about water, which not only quenches your thirst but also helps you enjoy lunches that will keep you full until dinner. Even if you order coffee, soda or iced tea with your noon meal, ask for a supplemental glass of water. Your stomach and digestion will thank you, and your energy levels should be higher for a productive afternoon.

Rev up Your Salad

Many times, people who are trying to lose or maintain weight eat only small green salads at lunchtime. A salad that’s jam-packed with high-nutrient veggies is a great start, but usually fades in the system too quickly. In other words, you’re just not sated, which means you’re at the mercy of snack foods and cravings later. This leaves you wanting more in just a couple of hours. You can boost your salad strength by adding chicken, fish, beef or tofu to your meal. It helps the salad stay with you, and you get even more vitamins and minerals.

Go Low on Carbs

We all love the taste of carbs, but too much of a good thing isn’t usually going to keep you full throughout the afternoon. You don’t have to completely rid your diet of carbs, unless your physician suggests it. You just have to cut back. Eat the carbs you’ve chosen, such as rolls or bread, slowly. Savor them, rather than rushing through them.

Start With Soup

Hearty, tasty soups can help you stay full. Eat a cup or bowl as a starter. If you’re worried about your weight, you may want to try a broth-based soup instead of a cream-based. In general, soups that have some protein, like clams, chicken or beef, will be even better in terms of keeping you from munching throughout the rest of the day.

Try Fruits for Dessert

Have a sweet tooth that just won’t let you go? There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little with a fruity dessert during lunch. To cap off your meal, get a dish of fresh-cut fruit. You will love the taste, and not feel like you missed out on having a treat.

Now that you have a better idea of what to order for lunch that will keep you full for several hours, it’s time to make a lunch date. Grab some colleagues, friends or a companion and go to your favorite restaurant for a lunch that will leave you feeling ready to tackle your afternoon tasks.