Oh it can be an awful feeling when you have cravings and urges to eat…and to eat some more, but to then never end up feeling satisfied (but instead you feel bloated, guilty and unhappy).
There could be a few reasons why you can’t seem to satisfy your cravings, which if addressed, could fix the hungry feeling once and for all!
Eat more protein at lunch and dinner
A lot of my clients complain that they feel unsatisfied in the evenings and that this is when they find themselves staring into the fridge even after eating dinner, or zombie eating in the middle of the night.
This could happen if your daytime meals focus more on carbohydrates and fats, and skimp on the protein. Try to boost your breakfast and lunch by including a healthy form of lean protein. If you like smoothies for breakfast, add in some protein powder to give it an extra boost. At lunch, include beans or legumes with your salad, or include a high protein pseudo grain such as quinoa to make your meals more filling and dense.
Eat enough calories for your needs
This might seem obvious, but if you are trying to diet (gosh, I hate that word!) and if that means cutting back on calories, then it could mean you are not consuming enough. I see people making wildly drastic cuts to their calorie intake in an attempt to lose weight, which inevitably leads to feeling starving at the end of the day…and which then leads to diet failure when you end up eating everything in sight.
It is better to gradually cut back on your calorie intake rather than making a massive reduction. This will help your body to adjust and st
op you from bingeing when you just aren’t eating enough to keep your body satisfied.
The amount of calories you need will depend on your body type, height, and your activity levels. You might like to try using a device like a Fitbit to help you to track your calorie intake and output so that you can stay in a healthy range.
You are drinking too many meals
I am a huge fan of my breakfast smoothies, and love to whizz up healthy smoothies as a snack or pick-me-up. However, even when using healthy ingredients, smoothies and juices can contain a lot of calories but if they don’t include some form of protein, they won’t fill you up. I always like to include protein powder, or chia or flax seeds, or nut milk to my smoothies to bulk them up and make them filling. If I skimp on these then I will end up feeling hungry again later.
Another problem with drinking your meals is that you miss out on chewing your food, which is necessary to get the salivary glands working which aid in digestion and in creating the feeling of fullness. It is a good idea to also have solid meals to accompany drinks like smoothies or juices in order to feel really satiated.
You race through your meals
If it is common to find yourself eating your lunch at your desk at work, or if you regularly watch TV while eating, dinner or allow yourself to be distracted by your phone or gadget while eating, then your body might not be properly registering that you have actually eaten a meal. You might eat a whole meal and not even really have tasted it- so of course you don’t feel satisfied!
One way to combat this problem is to eat mindfully- which means without any distractions. I wrote about this in a recent blog post, and I know that it can make all the difference in how you feel after a meal when you give mindful eating a try.
You have cut out all fats
Whilst it may seem that you have to cut out fat to loose fat, this simply isn’t the case, and not eating enough good fats can actually hinder your weight loss efforts.
Not all fats are created equally- we NEED to have good fats for healthy body function. Good fats include nits and seeds, avocado and coconut oil, for example. Including these with your meals will help you to feel fuller for longer.
Also avoid having no-fat or low-fat foods as the fats are usually replaced with sugars to make the food taste good, which means you are consuming empty calories that won’t leave you feeling full after eating them. Don’t be afraid of good fats and try to eat about 30% of your daily calories from good fats so that you won’t be reaching for an unhealthy snack really soon after eating your meal.
Don’t snack on junk foods
If you do find yourself needing a snack, try to choose a healthy one rather than something that won’t really satisfy your hunger and which will have you only reaching for more. Potato chips for example, won’t fill you up but are loaded with calories and not-healthy fats. It is better to snack on protein rich foods like edamame, vegetables with hummus or a handful of nuts and seeds which might actually satisfy your body’s true cravings.
I have a free health snacks guide that you can download to get some more ideas if you want to snack without the guilt! If you find yourself wanting to choose a treat over something healthy, try pausing before making the choice. Have a drink of water or make a herbal tea and if you still feel like the junk food then you can indulge. But hopefully if you make some small tweaks and changes, you will stop feeling so hungry and will be feeling more satisfied after your meals!