Do you find yourself feeling hungry again shortly after eating a meal? It’s incredible how much time we spend thinking about food – we get up and head to the kitchen to fix breakfast (make that coffee first), we plan lunch during the early part of the workday, and later on, we check-in with family or friends to make dinner plans for the evening.
For many folks, their social life revolves around food. We meet for breakfast or brunch on the weekend, lunch with work friends, and enjoy dinner at home or at restaurants with family and friends. We have potluck dinners at church, snacks at club meetings, popcorn at the movies. We bring food to sick friends; we celebrate life events with cakes and pies; we share holiday meals. Do we ever stop eating???
Then, why do so many of us feel hungry all the time?
The reasons are varied and are likely some you’ve heard all your life. So, as a refresher, remember that . . .
You need to eat enough protein. You know the sources – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, or whole grains. Some dairy products also have protein. Don’t you find yourself feeling fuller when you eat a meal that includes protein? A hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs gets you easily through to lunchtime, right?
Be sure you have enough fat in your diet. By eliminating fat completely, we’re doing more harm than good. The right amount of fat slows digestion and helps us feel fuller, longer. We need good fats to keep skin glowing and hair shiny. Healthy fats to consider include avocados, olive oil, and yogurt.
Get enough sleep. Bet that hit a nerve! We are a sleep-deprived nation – always on the go, gotta keep to that schedule, and ‘gett’r done.’ We plan everything, but do we plan for sleep? No, we wait until we’ve gotten everything done and then think about sleep. As a result, we go to bed exhausted and wake up in the same condition. So, what do we do? We eat to fuel up, instead of sleeping to rest up. Just go to bed and sleep through the night.
Drink plenty of water. Water helps to reduce appetite. Studies show that a person who drinks two cups of water before a meal is more likely to reduce their calorie intake by about 600 calories. We’ve all heard that we need to drink eight glasses of water per day. You carry your water bottle around all day, but are you drinking it? Make it more interesting by adding some fruit slices or mint if needed. Monitor how many times you refill your water bottle during the day. You’re probably not drinking as much as you think you are.
We need fiber. Fiber helps keep us full. Start your day with a hot bowl of oatmeal – add some nuts, a scoop of almond butter or peanut butter, raisins, and some honey – now, that’s a good meal! Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber and so easy to prepare. Add flaxseed to your veggies or smoothies. Eat those Brussels sprouts! Try them baked with walnuts and a drizzle of flavored vinegar – yum.
What are some other reasons we think we’re hungry?
- We eat when we’re bored. The fix? Read a book, work on a project, talk to each other.
- We wait too long between meals. Try sticking to a meal schedule or eat smaller, more frequent meals. No one wants to enter the ‘hangry’ stage!
- We eat too fast.There’s a reason that fast food places are everywhere. We need to learn to enjoy our food.
- We stress eat.There’s the big one! Had a stressful day – find the ice cream, candy, etc. Learn to de-stress without using food. Walk the dog, play catch with your kids, talk about your day; find some activity to help transition from work to home.
So, are you really hungry? Try keeping a food diary for a week just to see what and when you eat. You may be surprised at what you find by the end of the week. Eat healthy!