Are You Always Hungry?

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Do you feel like your stomach is a bottomless pit? Do you keep eating and eating and not feel full? Are you gaining weight because of your insatiable appetite?

Your stomach is actually the size of your fist – not very big. So you do not have a “bottomless pit”, although it may feel like it.  There could be several reasons as to why you do not feel full. What you eat, how you eat, when you eat as well as your emotional state can all play a role in satiety (feeling full).

Here are some tips to help you feel full without gaining weight:

1. Eat adequate lean protein at meals. Protein has been shown to help keep you feeling full longer. The lowest calorie sources of protein are: egg whites, cottage cheese, skinless poultry and non fatty fish. Sources of protein that have a little more calories but are still good choices include eggs, lean meat, soy and fattier fish such as salmon. Legumes are also good choices of protein. Make sure you are hydrated. Often times we are really thirsty and think we are hungry. Aim for at least 8 cups of non caloric fluid a day. Water is your best choice.

2. Make sure you are eating adequate amounts of fiber in your diet. Fiber takes longer to digest and helps to keep you feeling full longer. For example, a bowl of branflakes takes longer to digest than a bowl of cornflakes. An apple will make you feel fuller than apple juice. I will post more tips to increase your fiber intake at a later date.

3. Do not be fat phobic. I see a lot of people who avoid eating fat in fear of gaining weight yet they are hungry all day long and actually end up eating more. One of the reasons why people on high fat diets (i.e. Atkins) do not feel hungry is that they are eating large amounts of fat. I am not recommending you load up on fat; however eating a moderate amount can help you to stay full longer. The following portions of fat have 75-100 calories: ounce of cheese, a tablespoon of nut butter, ~ 15 almonds, an egg, a tablespoon of olive oil. Aim for 2-4 servings a day (depends upon your calorie goal).

4. Fill up on watery foods such as vegetables, broth based soup and fruit. Studies have shown that these kinds of foods can help you feel full and eat less later on. Try starting your meal with a bowl of soup (not New England clam chowder!) or a salad (not a Caesar salad!). More on high volume foods at a later post.

5. Do not go too long without eating. This will cause you to be starving at your next meal. It will feel almost impossible to be satiated and you will continue to eat on and on. Plan little snacks in between meals to help keep your hunger in check for your next meal.

6. Slow down. You have heard the old saying that it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that you are getting full. It is true! Slow down, relax and enjoy your food when you eat. It will help you to feel fuller quicker and eat less.

7. Take into account your emotional state. Sometimes people find they get the urge to eat when they are anxious, depressed, bored, etc. Emotions are a major cause of overeating. You will really need to pay attention to if you are truly hungry when you get the urge to eat. Try to distract yourself for 10 minutes and the urge to eat will often go away.

8. Rule out a medical cause. Some medical conditions or medications can increase hunger. Check with your doctor.

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I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.

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