If you feel like you’re always hungry or hungry a bit too often, then today’s Food as Medicine episode will help fix that.
When we feel fuller longer, we can lose weight while balancing energy levels and our hormones.
Our brains can get in the way of our weight loss goals, and make us think we're hungry when in reality we're just bored, tired, dehydrated, or under-exercised.
Your brain and your food don’t have to be a saboteur; in fact, there are plenty of ways to leverage them into achieving your weight-loss, energy, and hormonal goals.
1. Keep healthy snacks on hand that contain protein and fat (and eat breakfast!)
Filling up on a substantial breakfast makes you much less prone to snacking and overindulging later in the day. Plus, you set up your metabolic profile with your first meal of the day.
I used to laugh at my Grandma when she admonished me for skipping breakfast.
She’d say, “Your body is like a car. If you don’t give it gas, it won’t go.”
Well, Grandma was so right!
One study found that women who ate a substantial breakfast of about 600-700 calories had a greater drop in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) than women who ate a smaller breakfast. Plus, eating a good meal in the morning can spare your crazy sugar and caffeine cravings later in the day and contribute to peaceful sleep at night – a three-for-one with this tip!
Healthy Snack Options mentioned in this video for during the day:
When people are hungry, they’ll often snack on whatever food is most accessible, and that includes healthy food, so stock up your purse and glove box to avoid hitting the drive through, vending machine, or convenience store. Preparation is half the battle.
2. Keep a food journal
Would you still eat all those chips, that scone, or the sugary coffee drink if you knew you had to write it down?
“Research says maybe not. A Kaiser Permanente study found people who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight over the course of six months than those who didn't record their meals.
Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who kept food journals lost, on average, six pounds more than women who were simply part of diet and exercise groups.
Researchers believe writing down what you eat makes you more aware of food choices, and therefore, encourages cutting the calories you'd otherwise sneak in.”
I used to have my clients keep a food-mood journal, where they evaluate how hungry they were before they ate, what their mood was, and how they felt after. It’s quite enlightening when we begin to study our habits and the driving mechanism behind why we eat and the food choices we make.
Awareness is the first step in improving anything so this can really help.
3. Chew 30 times each bite and start off with smaller portions
The average American eats about 30% more than the average European in 20 minutes a day versus a typical European who spends on average 2.5 hours a day at meal times.
What does that say about us as a nation?
We need to slow down.
Chewing your food 30 times each will be, well, annoying, but also, can be life-changing. When I used to teach mindful eating workshops, this simple act helped women overcome food addiction and helped free them of ingrained habits that were keeping them unhappy.
Try it with your next meal. Chew your food until it’s liquid in your mouth. Also, start with a smaller portion than usual so you don’t feel the need to eat “all that food” on your plate but rather to evaluate intuitively if you are full or still hungry.
It’s a no-risk experiment. 😉
4. Savor your food and become a slow eater
Before you begin eating, even if you are a starvin’ Marvin, take 3 deep breaths, then drink at least 6 ounces of room temperature water.
This will ground and center you to be present to your meal. When your brain registers the meal, you are likely to get higher satisfaction out of your meal than if you ate your food at the speed of light. Your nurture factor will not have been met as giving you the nourishing experience of a meal, and you’ll likely reach for more food after dinner that you otherwise would not.
5. Hide the junk and put the super foods on the counter
We didn’t get a chance to touch on this during the show, but it’s super important.
“A Cornell Food and Brand Lab study found that women who stored soft drinks on the counter weighed 24 to 26 pounds more than women whose counters were free of sugary beverages. Similarly, women who displayed cereal boxes on the counter were, on average, 20 pounds heavier than those who didn't. So rather than leave your snacks out in the open, make it more challenging to eat by keeping hiding them away on the highest shelf of your pantry.”
Therefore, we suggest keeping super foods on your counter like raw cacao nibs, goji berries, and golden berries, along with raw nuts for a quick snack.
“Unlike junk food, you should proudly display your healthy snacks. The same Cornell University Food and Brand Lab study found people who kept a fruit bowl in plain sight weighed an average of 13 pounds less than those who didn't. The takeaway: place a bowl on your kitchen counter and fill it with nutritious oranges, bananas, and apples.”