Hungry again? Maybe your lifestyle and eating habits are to blame.
Here are five reasons you’re always in the mood to munch and suggestions for how to curb those cravings.
1. You’re not eating the right foods
Want to feel full longer? Think twice about the foods you eat. Those rich in fiber are more likely to keep you satiated longer. Consider beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. Other good options include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, apples, and pears.
“High-fiber foods also tend to have a lower glycemic index, which can mean fewer blood sugar crashes,” says Robert Carrara, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “Having high-quality lean protein at meals and snacks such as egg whites, string cheese and fish can also help keep your hunger under control.”
2. You’re skipping breakfast
There’s no doubt you’ve heard this before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
That’s because it gives you the fuel you need to start the morning. Eating a nutritious breakfast can help prevent that gnawing sensation you often feel a few hours into your day, the one tempting you to buy an unhealthy snack. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big meal. In fact, regularly eating bacon and pancakes will do more harm than good. Instead, try berries, low-fat yogurt, nut butter on a slice of whole grain toast or quinoa.
3. You’re not drinking enough water
Sometimes you may feel as if you’re hungry when your body actually is saying “I’m thirsty.” Next time you think you’re hungry, instead of heading to the snack machine, grab a glass of water. See if that takes care of the craving. And if you drink water just before a meal, you’re likely to curb your appetite and consume fewer calories during the meal itself. Remember, water has no calories.
4. You’re eating too much sugar
Cookies, candy, soda pop – there’s a reason experts say these are empty calories. There’s very little about them that’s even remotely healthy. They can make your glucose level spike, then you feel lousy when it drops and you’re hunting for another snack in an effort to feel satisfied. Instead, eat meals and snacks that consist of protein and healthy fats, such as nuts and avocados. You may find yourself eating less because you’re more satisfied with the foods you’re consuming. If you’re trying to satisfy a craving for sweets that won’t budge, try dark chocolate.
5. You’re not really hungry – you’re eating mindlessly
You’re at the office after celebrating a co-worker’s birthday. The sheet cake has been cut, and frosting-slathered slices are served on paper plates. The cake isn’t your favorite, but you grab a plate along with a handful of chips, then head back to your desk to gobble it all down. Before you know it, your shirt is littered with crumbs and you’re making a second trip to the breakroom to see what’s left. Sound familiar?
Next time your co-workers inflate the balloons and start singing Happy Birthday, have a plan. If someone was thoughtful enough to bring fruit or a vegetable tray, eat those and skip the cake and chips. If there’s nothing nutritious in sight, be prepared to say “no thanks” to the cake and treat yourself instead to a handful of nuts back at your desk.