Do you feel permanently hungry?
Does your stomach have a constant rumble?
Does nothing seem to satisfy your constant craving for food?
Then it may be time to consider a change of lifestyle…
Have you started to increase your mileage or train harder? You may be building a big base or have a race coming up – if so it would be perfectly normal to increase your food intake to fuel your extra training. Are you constantly tormented by the feeling of hunger, to the point where you’re back and forth to the fridge or cupboards looking for food, expecting there to be something different in there than there was just 30 minutes earlier? If this is the case then maybe you should ask yourself why and what you can do to stop yourself feeling hungry all the time.
There are a few easy steps that may help you to feel satisfied and full for longer, and take away those annoying hunger pangs.
Eat Real Food
If you’ve ever counted calories you’ll know it’s easy to get obsessed adding up the calories rather than concentrating on the foods that we are eating, the numbers have always seemed more important and easier to follow/understand; but our bodies need nutrients, we tend to make the poor decision to eat lots of processed starchy foods like white bread, white pasta, white rice, ready meals and so on which lack nutrients. Prioritise the quality of the food and the nutrients it provides rather than simply the number of calories it contains.
Don’t avoid full fat foods, for example full fat yoghurt, oils, cheese and butter. We have been led to believe that fat makes us fat, but it’s not quite as simple as that. It’s all down to the balance of calories in versus calories out, plus when we eat the foods has an effect on if and how we store them. What is certain is that our bodies need a certain amount of fat for a balanced diet to help us function properly and keep us healthy. Along with fat, our bodies also need protein and carbohydrates, so you need to make sure you get the right balance. It’s worth noting that protein and fat take longer in the body to digest which, in theory, makes us feel fuller for longer.
Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, for example brown rice, wholemeal bread, sweet potatoes, quinoa take longer for the body to digest and provide a more sustained release of energy. These are known as low GI (Glycaemic Index) foods and they to stabilise your blood sugar levels. High GI foods such as white pasta, white bread, white rice, doughnuts, sugary drinks, biscuits etc, cause your blood sugar to spike up but then come crashing down as your body pumps out insulin to deal with it. Consequently you feel hungry again sooner. Eating more low GI foods means you’ll avoid ‘crashing’ immediately afterwards, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.
Eat Little and Often
This is the one I think that we all like the sound of; FOOD FOOD FOOD! If your blood sugar levels fluctuate a lot, so much so that in between meals you feel shaky and even kind of spaced out, try eating little and often. There are two ways that you can deal with this; have smaller meals more often, or go for healthy substantial snacks which include protein and fat and have smaller main meals. You will have to try both and see which works best for you. Example healthy snacks could be, nuts, vegetables with hummus, full fat yoghurt, apple slices with cheese or maybe a banana with some peanut butter.
Prepare your Food in Advance
Think about what you’ll be eating over the next week, try planning your meals and then buying just the ingredients that you need from the shops. Research has shown that if we wait until we are hungry to plan our meal we are more likely to make poor food choices, which include more calories, less nutrients and lead to turbulent blood sugar levels. If you need ideas for healthy snacks and meals try the internet for inspiration.
Still Feeling Hungry?
Why not try a restricted calorie day! Sometimes it does us good to remember what it’s like to feel properly hungry. Nutritionists recommend trying restricting your calories for just one day – 500 for women and 600 for men. This can be a useful way for the body to check in with its hunger signals, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. If you happen to try this, you will probably find that over the following days you become more attuned to your internal hunger signals and realise that the ‘hunger’ you have been feeling between your meals isn’t actually real hunger. We eat for all sorts of reasons other than being truly hungry.