Ask SK: “I feel like I am always hungry, what can I do to stay fuller longer?”
Sarah-Kate (“SK”) is a board certified nurse practitioner licensed in California and a co-founder at The Mindful Tech Lab. Send your questions to AskSK@themindfultechlab.com for the chance to have your questions answered and featured here!
This is a great question that came from Aundrea from Nevada, and a very common situation for many individuals. Being hungry all of the time literally has no value. If you are constantly hungry this leads to more irritability and stress, can make it harder to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight.
Below lists the best ways to increase fullness and prevent constant hunger:
Drink at least one glass of water before a meal
Water takes up volume in your stomach, which helps to send signals to your brain that you are full. Drinking at least one glass of water before your meals will make it so that you feel full faster.
Sometimes when we are thirsty this can actually make you feel hungry, when really all you need is a glass of water. Whenever you start to feel hungry, drink a glass of water and see if that decreases your hunger.
Mix of protein, fat, and fiber
These are the ingredients that will make you full the most. Protein and fat take the longest to digest, meaning they will keep you from getting hungry. Fiber is indigestible, meaning your body can’t break it down or absorb any calories from fiber. This doesn’t mean your body won’t try, and it tries hard! Which is why fiber keeps you full and you burn calories just by your digestive system trying hard to break it down.
A good example of meal that mixes all of these is an omelette with lots of vegetables. You get protein and fat from the eggs, and fiber from the vegetables. Easy right?!
Slow down your eating
It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that you are full and that you have eaten enough. Chew your food longer and swallow before going to the next forkful of food. Slowing down also increases mindfulness at your meal so that you fully take in the experience of eating, making it for a more satisfying meal.
Cut out sugar
Avoid sugar in all meals because sugar just makes you crave more, and sugar does nothing to keep you full. Limit your sugar to under 25 grams total per day, less the better.
Note that sugar is not just in candy or sweets, but is hidden in condiments and other foods we would never think would have sugar. Always check the labels of foods or sauces to make sure you are not taking in extra sources of sugar.
Add some heat
Adding hot sauce to meals increases your metabolism slightly, and makes you slow down your eating. Hot sauce has virtually no calories and you tend to not need much of it to add great flavor to your meals.
Cinnamon may help to slow digestion, meaning it may help to make you more full with a meal. It also may decrease the blood sugar response when taken with a carbohydrate meal.
This means turn off the television and put away your phone. Use your various senses of smell, sight, and taste of your food to fully enjoy your eating. This leads to greater fullness and satisfaction. Think about times where you sat yourself in front of the television and inhaled a bag of chips without even realizing it.
Avoid carbs in the morning
Contrary to popular belief, avoid carbohydrates in the morning. When you start with carbohydrates, this is setting yourself up to be hungry the rest of the day. This is because carbohydrates increase blood sugar, which tells your body to secrete the hormone insulin to get the sugar out of the blood as fast as it can. This then causes a rapid decrease in blood sugar due to insulin, and a couple hour later you are hungry again – and hungry for sugar because now your blood sugar is even lower than it was before. Instead of toast or cereal, stick with a meal that combines fat, protein, and fiber as discussed above.
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab
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