Some days we just feel hungry all the time. Whether it's never feeling full or never feeling fully satisfied, there are dietary and lifestyle things you can do to reduce hunger. However, constant hunger can also be a sign of certain medical conditions that may need treatment. For the hunger that is in all in your mind, you could try the following.
#1 Practice Mindful/ Intuitive Eating
Learn to be mindful of what you eat and how much – it’s likely you’ll be feeling lighter and satisfied without leaving your tongue lagging and stomach lusting. The idea is: the less calories you eat the less you want to eat them. There are a few things we can do to suppress the urge to eat but leave us feeling satisfied. Read our full article on this to give you some guidance.
#2 Fibre is filling
It’s time to go big and bulk up on fibre rich foods like wholegrains and vegetables, as they hold a high water-content, which leaves you feeling full while reducing your appetite. Vegetable soups and broths are also a good way to subdue your hunger. It’s not everyone’s taste, but with soup as a starter followed by a high calorie second course you’re likely to eat less than you would without it. Try to incorporate some kind of fibre into every meal to ensure you don’t over eat.
Note: avoid any canned foods or soups - the sodium content is often too high.
#3 Eat less salt
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average person in the U.S. eats more than 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily, most of which comes from processed foods. The AHA recommend that people should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but ideally, most adults should aim to consume under 1,500 mg daily. However, salty foods may affect more than just heart health. Some research suggests that high salt consumption may cause a person to eat more.
#4 Crunchy greens, not crunchy potatoes
Sometimes you’re not even hungry but you just need to crunch down on something. It's obvious that a bag of crisps isn't healthy. But outside of being fried, did you know that some high-calorie/ high-sodium foods actually encourage us to eat more? Fill the gap by munching on crunchy salad stuff rather than the crisps that don’t even touch sides. Ideally, you should resist unnecessary snacking, but if you do snack, stick to low-calorie veg. And remember, you're not only limited to carrots and celery – peppers, snow peas, cucumber... take your pick.
#5 Maintain blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels drop and we immediately want something sweet to give us a kick. Sweets are a short-term solution, so try to stabilise throughout the day. Plant-based foods containing soluble fibre and low calories – oranges and the grapefruits not only make you feel fuller faster but also help maintain a balanced blood sugar level. Part of stabilising blood sugar means you’re also less likely to snack unconsciously or unnecessarily.
#6 Kick off with healthy fats
It’s not a bad thing to keep fat in your diet as it contains a hormone called Leptin – lacking this hormone can result in a growing appetite. Fun fact, as we age, our bodies stop producing leptin, so we don’t always know that we’re actually full. But just remember: fat doesn’t always mean any fat. Be wary of the bad and unhealthy fat sources out there – read this article for a bit of clarity. Stick to the good fats – nuts, fish, avocado, olive oils etc.
#7 Start your day with Protein
This is so important. Many of us skip breakfast and wonder why we get to lunch ravenous, or the quite the opposite. Starting your day off with some sort of protein will stabilise those blood sugars and take longer to digest keeping you feeling full for longer – you’ll avoid the random snacking or the starved over-eating. If you’re not a breakfast person, try to have a handful of nuts as your first bit of food. They’re high in protein, fat, vitamins and fibre, and are great to eat in small portions to satisfy your hunger.
If you’re daring try to eat a not-so-usual breakfast protein – we’re talking a chicken breast or steak and veg. It’s seldom we feel the need to snack after dinner – why not try dinner for breakfast on day?
#8 Slow down – no one is going to eat your food
“Strange, what being forced to slow down can do to a person.” - Nicholas Sparks
Try to slow down the pace you eat at. Studies show that the brain can take 20 minutes before registering that the stomach is comfortable and you can stop eating. Motoring through your meal leaves your brain playing catch-up and often results with you having overeaten. Refer to trick #1 – Intuitive eating.
Drinking a glass of water is actually pretty effective if you are trying to manage your hunger in the 30 minutes before lunch. You’ll make it to lunch if you can stop yourself from thinking of snacking anyway.
It’s all easier said than done, so start small and try something you know you could probably manage. Some might find that a high protein breakfast has worked best to curb a snacking tendency – while you're at it start working on the intuitive eating thing.