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Updated on: Sunday, January 09, 2022, 01:07 PM IST

Wholesome Nutrition: 8 smart ways to deal with your hunger pangs

Not eating a balanced diet or lacking nutrients that help us stay full for a long time may cause hunger pangs. These evidence-based natural methods will help you combat the need to binge eat
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Hunger and appetite are regular events in everyone's life. Feeling hungry is a good sign as it shows that your body needs fuel, but being hungry right after a meal isn't good. Not eating a balanced diet or lacking nutrients that help us stay full for a long time may cause frequent hunger.

Frequent hunger can affect the weight-loss process, efforts to adopt intermittent fasting style eating and managing health conditions requiring specific dietary intervention. It has become quite popular to use appetite and hunger suppressants in recent years. These products promise to produce significant weight loss by reducing appetite and hunger. However, they pose a multitude of threats that are hard to comprehend. This article discusses eight evidence-based natural methods to manage hunger and appetite throughout the day.

Choose a fibre-rich diet: Dietary fibre-rich foods take longer to digest and hence they help you stay full for longer. Research suggests that such foods produce a strong satiety sensation that aids the weight loss process and help one maintain a healthy weight. Beta-glucan, a dietary fibre found in oats, is reported to have a positive effect on satiety. Furthermore, gut microbiota digests dietary fibre to produce short-chain fatty acids that induce feelings of fullness. To reduce hunger pangs, include fibre-rich staples like bajra, ragi, barley, beans, legumes, leafy and colourful vegetables, nuts and seeds in your daily diet.

Eat protein and healthy fats: Adding protein in each meal and eating healthy fats throughout the day is a smart way to ensure a slow supply of energy and lower the level of hunger hormones. Both animal and plant-based proteins have appetite-suppressing effects.

A trial study involving 20 healthy adults reported participants who ate high-protein breakfast had an increased feeling of fullness than those who had a cereal-based breakfast. Chickpeas, peas and soy have been shown to reduce hunger in a similar manner to pork and veal. Include quality protein and fats such as lean chicken, eggs, grass-fed meat, beans, legumes, dairy, soy, yoghurt, nuts, seeds and fatty fish in your daily diet for satiety. 

Don’t drink calories: Carbonated beverages, alcohol, soda, sports drinks and fruit juices are filled with empty calories and a few essential nutrients. Although they satisfy thirst, they don't fill you up. If you often feel hungry, you should refrain from consuming liquid calories. Compared to liquid, solid foods with a higher viscosity significantly reduce hunger. Solid foods require more chewing and more time to transmit fullness signals to the brain. Similarly, foods with a softer texture, such as cake or pastry, are often eaten in larger portions.

Drink water before a meal: Studies based on research done on animals have reported that thirst could be confused with hunger sometimes. A study involving 14 healthy males demonstrated people who drank two glasses of water immediately before a meal had 22% less food than those who didn’t. Drinking around 500 ml of water before a meal could reduce total calorie intake in non-obese young males. Drinking bone broth or soup could also bring similar benefits if you’re feeling hungry often and overeating. 

Practice mindful eating: To avoid overeating, concentrate on your food and portion. Establish a healthy relationship with foods. Depriving yourselfof your favourite foods is not a good idea. Eating everything in moderation is the key. Additionally, various studies suggest that mindfulness during meals can weaken mood-related cravings and be beneficial for people susceptible to emotional eating, impulsive eating, and reward-driven eating, all of which affect appetite and hunger.

Chew better and eat slowly: Eating slowly might be a way to avoid overeating. People who eat at a faster pace tend to consume more calories. On the other hand, people who chew their food better and eat slow tend to feel more satiated compared to those who don’t. 

Choose filling snacks: You can manage your hunger without overloading yourself with a heavy meal by eating healthy, filling, protein, healthy fat and fibre-rich snacks. For instance, when you snack on high-protein yoghurt, you are likely to feel full for a long time, leading to consuming fewer calories later in the day. Add fruit for a more nutritious and filling snack.

De-stress yourself: Chronic stress can increase levels of cortisol — a hormone that may increase appetite and cravings in some people. Stress may also lead to a decrease in the fullness hormone, peptide YY. Stress does not always cause hunger; some people report losing their appetite as well. Nonetheless, if you are someone who suffers from emotional eating or food cravings, stress could make you overeat. Under stress, instead of eating a heavy meal or high-calorie food, drink green tea, munch nuts, stretch or take a walk.

In case you do not see any results after following the above-mentioned tips, contact a professional.

(Subhasree Ray is a Doctoral Scholar, Clinical and Public Health Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator. She can be followed on her Twitter @DrSubhasree)

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Published on: Sunday, January 09, 2022, 08:03 AM IST
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