Understanding hunger pains and satiety is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. Feeling hungry is one of the worst stressors that exists and it’s not only children who feel ‘hangry’! Think of yourself as a burning fire that constantly needs fuelling. A fire cannot burn without wood /coal being added regularly, you cannot function without fuelling your body regularly either. When your stomach is empty, Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) produced in your stomach sends messages to your brain to tell you to eat. However Ghrelin can be stimulated by other factors in addition to hunger, such as level of stress and amount of sleep you have had. In addition to sleep and stress it is very common to feel hungry when you’re bored. Keeping a food diary is a good way to keep an eye on your food and drink consumption. Record everything you consume and how you feel during the day and notice if there’s a correlation between food triggers and emotional state.
Another reason you think you’re hungry is due to habits and learnt behaviour. At 1pm, your brain may tell you you’re hungry because it’s lunchtime, even though you had a late breakfast at 11am. This is an external que to eat triggered by time of the day, triggered also by smell of food or visually seeing food. Try to be in tune with your internal ques to eat, such as a growling tummy. How can you tell if you actually are hungry? If you are really hungry, your body will be satisfied with a healthy meal. If we’re not really hungry, we tend to crave sugary, fatty foods that trigger feel-good receptors. Try to eat foods that will keep you feeling fuller for longer:
- Protein – lean chicken, fish, soft cheese and nuts take longer to digest and keep hunger at bay. Try to have some protein at very meal.
- Foods that have fewer calories per gram – pulses, brown pasta/rice and potatoes.
- Soup – having soup or a glass of water before a meal can fill you up quicker.
- Fibre – eating fibre induces the release of a chemical PYY (peptide tyrosine) which is known to reduce appetite. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit including the skin on certain fruits. Try to eat no more than 3 portions of fruit a day because of the natural sugars present. Good fats – foods such as avocado, oily fish, olive oil and nuts are known to curb your appetite.
Stay hydrated. It’s a common mistake to recognise thirst as hunger, be sure to drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Dehydration can cause feelings of lethargy, tiredness and head aches.
Try to steer clear of junk food. Processed food raises your sugar levels quickly, followed by a slump, leaving you hungry shortly afterwards. Any foods coated in white flour or sugar try to steer clear of. Be prepared and take lunch with you or you know the only option will be fast food.
Think about your portion sizes. Studies show that are portion sizes in Britain are getting bigger. here’s a guide to portion sizes:
- Fruit – 1 portion is a cupped palm of the hand
- Vegetables – 1 portion is a clenched fist
- Cheese – 1 portion is two thumbs
- Uncooked pasta and rice – 1 portion is a clenched fist
- Potato – 1 portion is a clenched fist
- Meat – 1 portion is the size of your palm
- Oily fish -1 portion is the size of your palm
- White fish – 1 portion is the size of your whole hand
- Chocolate – 1 portion is the size of your index finger
- Nuts and seeds- 1 portion is the palm of your hand.
It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to communicate with the brain to send messages saying we are full. Try to eat ‘attentively’, this results in eating less later. Take part in FITMumPlan exercise classes that burn off excess calories. FITMum Plan | Emma Wheeler Fitness To read my previous two blogs click here: