Next time you get an attack of the mindless late-night munchies or find yourself foraging even though you’ve just eaten, take a sec to check your hunger-meter.
Are you really hungry? Quite probably not. You eat for so many reasons – few of them actually relate to a grumbling tummy – you risk losing your ability to reliably recognise true hunger. As a result, you can also unwittingly down hundreds (and thousands) of excess kilojoules every day.
Be more mindful What to do? First, become more aware of what you put in your mouth when, where and how! Take time to prepare and cook good food you really enjoy. Try not to eat in front of the telly or when you’re rushing. Eat slowly to really savour your food (it’s called a spoon, not a shovel) and to be sure your body notices you ate!
Clever snack suggestions...
• A piece of wholegrain toast spread with mashed banana and sprinkled with chia seeds.
• Slices of apple, thinly spread with peanut butter.
• A cup or two of popcorn, made with a tablespoon of coconut oil.
• Half an avocado sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper.
• A tablespoon of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and pepitas.
Can meal replacements help?
Meal replacement shakes, soups and bars can be a safe and effective way to help bring hunger under control. There are many on the market designed to be used in conjunction with regular food and exercise. A nutritionally complete, total meal replacement plan D (very low calorie diet) Program* could be suitable if you have a lot of weight to lose. Visit optifast.com.au for info and don’t forget to check with your GP first.
Outsmart your hunger
What if you do genuinely feel hungry all the time? Assuming there’s no medical cause, it may be a sign you’re simply not eating enough of the right kinds of hunger-busting foods. Try these tips to outsmart your hunger pangs:
• Pair up to fill up Eat protein- and fibre-rich foods together to achieve greater satiety. For example, grilled chicken plus lots of vegies and brown rice. Adding healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts) to the mix will also help fill you up.
• Drink your fill We’re talking water, not wine. Hunger is often thirst in disguise. Don’t be fooled! Sip a glass or two and feel those pangs disappear.
• Brush your teeth Ever noticed how bad everything tastes just after you brush? You’re welcome!
• Supersize the right way Portion control is important but so is not feeling deprived. Look for ways to add lots of volume but few kilojoules to meals so you can fill your plate well. For example, add tons of meaty mushrooms to stir‐fries or heap handfuls of greens into soups and salads.
• Eat regularly There’s no glory in ‘starving’ yourself. Those virtuous feelings last only up to the moment you start devouring anything not nailed down.
• Use distraction tactics These help you distinguish between real hunger and false hunger. Instead of hoeing into the bickies or chips, phone a friend; go for a brisk walk; work out to a DVD; slowly sip a cup of ginger, peppermint or chamomile tea; do a crossword or colour in; get lost in a novel; even crush (digital) candies. If you’re still hungry 20 minutes later and it’s not almost meal time, make a small, smart snack (see Clever snack suggestions, opposite).
Go to bed!
Do you eat wisely all day but lose the plot at night? Being tired can create a sensation around your midsection, which is often mistaken for hunger. So if it’s late, go to bed. So many problems solved!
You might be really hungry if...
• it’s been four hours since you ate
• the feeling has come on gradually
• your stomach is audibly growling
• you feel a little weak, shaky or fatigued – this is usually a sign your body needs fuel n you’re not craving a particular type of food n the last thing you ate was high in sugar or saturated fat, or low in nutritional value
Why do we eat when we're not hungry?
• Power of suggest