Isn’t it fascinating (and frustrating) how the ‘I have to eat RIGHT now!’ feeling can hit even when you think you’ve been making a conscious effort to stick to a healthy eating plan? The fact is, experts are discovering that it’s not just a case of what you eat – when you eat, what your food tastes like and even how much you drink, can all have an impact on how often hunger pangs strike.
Here, we share five common reasons why people frequently feel famished, as well as some top tips for maximising satisfaction and keeping hunger at bay.
1. Eating at different, erratic times each day
Eating at different times every day can make it difficult for you to tune into your body’s hunger signals. The result? You end up eating because of food cues in the environment, like a box of enticing movie popcorn, when you should really be having lunch.
The Fix: Plan ahead
Reviewing your My Tracker or your Weight Watchers app will help you zero in on when you’re most likely to fall prey to eating at erratic times. If you haven’t been tracking your food consistently, try doing so for a few days. Then create a schedule that focuses on eating within two hours of waking up and every three to five hours after that, for the rest of the day.
2. Not eating the ‘right’ type of breakfast
Although any breakfast is better than none, the foods you choose can have a major impact on how satisfied you feel for the rest of the day – or at least until lunchtime rolls around.
The Fix: Build a better mix of nutrients
The key to ensuring your breakfast keeps your appetite in check until lunchtime hits is building a morning meal that contains both protein and some nutritious, wholegrain carbohydrates. Opt for no-fuss choices like a slice of reduced-fat cheese on wholegrain bread; eggs on toast; or wholegrain cereal with low-fat milk.
3. Eating a really restricted diet
People who feel deprived when they’re trying to lose weight, or are highly restricted in their eating, may be more likely to engage in periods of overeating. In other words, when you restrict yourself from enjoying a variety of foods, it may have a negative impact in your weight-loss goals.
The Fix: Spice it up
Getting creative in the kitchen will give your stand-by recipes new life, and keep you feeling more satisfied and interested, in the long run. Experiment with fresh herbs that deliver a powerful flavour-packed punch, like basil, coriander, oregano and mint. Texture is also key: aim for combinations of creamy, crunchy, and chewy. Try tossing chopped nuts on your greens or mixing a tablespoon of muesli into your yoghurt.