You might know this feeling: You just had what you think is a nice, full lunch, but half an hour later, you feel hungry again. There are plenty of factors that might be affecting our hunger levels, so dietitian Michelle Jaelin helps us crack the code on how to keep ourselves feeling nourished and satisfied all day long.
FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO HUNGER
This time is like a grief period for a lot of us, not to mention we are likely experiencing more boredom and stress as well. The way some people respond to these feelings might be by eating less healthy and snacking.A lot of Jaelin's clients have concerns over a shifting diet now that they’re home and their routine has changed so drastically. While she tries to tell everyone we should all be more patient with ourselves, and be more kind and gentle with ourselves during this period, there are some easy fixes when it comes to your food choices that can keep you feeling more satisfied throughout the day, both now and when things get back to normal.
FIND VARIETY AND BALANCE
All of your meals should have your carb, your protein and your fat. The key lies in balance and variety here. So even if you have something healthy like eggs for breakfast—they are high in protein, which is great. Protein reduces the hunger hormone knows as "ghrelin", so this meal will keep you full for a bit, but that meal would be lacking in healthy carbs and fats, so that hunger will creep back sooner than later. So instead you might consider having eggs with whole grain toast, with avocado to add some healthy fats and fiber. Fiber is especially key here–it’s a form of carbohydrate that most people should be eating more of. You can find lots of fiber in veggies and fruits and it will keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
EAT HEALTHY CARBS
Not all carbs are created equal when it comes to nourishing our bodies. That’s definitely true, especially when it comes to refined carbs. One of the most popular sources of refined carbs is white flour, which can be found in a lot of grain-based foods like bread and pasta, baked goods and even candy. But refined carbs have less fiber than whole grains, since they’re actually stripped of their fiber during processing, so your body digests them very quickly which is a major reason why you might be feeling hungry soon after a bowl of pasta or a pizza, for example.This is why it's important to choose whole grains more often where possible (whole wheat breads, quinoa, oats, brown rice) over refined grains, and to always balance your carbs with protein and/or fibre as we just spoke about. If you are having that pizza, balance it with some salad or raw veggies on the side to add fiber, water and nutrients that will keep you feeling satisfied much longer.[video_embed id='1899352']Five nutrients you might not know you needed[/video_embed]
KNOW WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY
If you’re feeling hungry within an hour of eating a meal, you know that meal wasn’t sufficient. You either didn’t eat enough, or there wasn’t that balance of different macro nutrients. Your meals should be lasting you at least three hours, or longer.
If you look at this image, you’ll see how different cues result in different (often unwanted) results. We shouldn’t wait until we’re in the orange (ravenous) or red (starving) zones to eat. By then, you would likely overeat because you are running on empty and will eat until the other end: orange (bloated) and red (nauseous). This will also often make it so that the next meal you eat won’t feel like enough. Yellow (stomach growling) to me is like the warning sign that we are waiting too long to nourish our bodies. You’ll end up feeling stuffed rather than satisfied.Instead, the best option is to eat when at a light green, "hungry", which will bring you to light green on the other side, "full". This is where we would ideally like to be. We’re also less likely to overeat when we eat in that green zone.Hunger is very individual, and so many people don’t actually pay attention to their own cues.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRAVINGS VS. HUNGER
Hunger is a biological function of your body’s need for food. The "hunger hormone", aka ghrelin, released in the stomach and stimulates our appetite when our body needs food. Ghrelin levels decrease after about an hour after a meal.Craving is a psychological want or need for something, usually driven by our emotions. Craving certain foods can come from memories in the past where food was the treatment for something. For example, you were feeling stressed or anxious, and chocolate made you feel better. So now you have a craving for chocolate during times of stress or anxiety.There is head hunger and stomach hunger. Head hunger refers to what you are referring to as “cravings.” Stomach hunger is what you feel when your body needs food.
FIND TIME FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
First, remember Self-Compassion: You're not as active as you were before, because you're now missing those kickboxing classes. You can try online workouts, and while it may not be the same as your usual classes, it is enough. Remember, be kind to your body.But finding some physical activity can really help with our hunger levels. It can stimulate hunger in people who are not eating (increases serotonin, which regulates sleep and appetite). In people who are eating more than usual, exercise helps decrease levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and increase levels of appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. Of course if you do a challenging online workout you will be hungry after because you have nothing in your gut and burned lots of calories.Often when we keep active we tend to make healthier choices with food. Plan for a nutritious post workout meal, such as protein shake with frozen fruit, grilled chicken and vegetables, tuna and crackers or fruit with cottage cheese.[video_embed id='1918025']The difference between being fatigued and being tired[/video_embed]
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Not getting enough sleep (less than about five hours a night) results in plummeting levels of leptin, which is the hormone responsible for letting your brain know you are full or satisfied. Less sleep can also result in skyrocketing levels of ghrelin, the hormone in charge of telling your brain you are hungry. So just one night of poor sleep can make those levels go up and affect your hunger levels significantly.Also, loss of sleep can cause your insulin levels to rise, which increases glucose storage and causes the body to burn sugar instead of fat. This then makes our cravings for sugar or carbs increase when we’re awake.This is why it’s key to stick to a consistent bedtime, especially now as our schedules might be less regular.
Hunger is the physiological need for calories, water, and salt, and it's driven by a mix of factors, including your diet, appetite hormones, and emotional factors, such as stress.Dehydration can often be masked as feelings of hunger, when your body just needs fluids. This happens in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates both appetite and thirst. When dehydration sets in, the wires in the hypothalamus get crossed - often mistaking thirst for hunger. You can stay on top of this by: Starting the day off with a glass of water first thing in the morning.If you think you're hungry, but haven't drank much during the day, drink a glass of water and wait 30 mins. If your hunger subsides, you were thirsty instead of hungry. If you still feel hunger, you need food.[video_embed id='1919692']BEFORE YOU GO: How to listen to your body to eat more intuitively[/video_embed]