Ever wonder why some people need to snack all day when others get by with a bite or two and seem satisfied? It’s not just will power. There is a science to it and consequently a method that everyone can learn!
- Get enough sleep. What, you protest, how can sleep help me fight hunger? Sleep deprivation increases the level of a hunger-causing hormone called ghrelin. High levels produce more hunger. Evolutionarily, before our cave-dwelling hunter-gatherer ancestors moved into the cubicle, awake time meant forage time. Sleep more. Gather less. Eat less. Ghrelin is also, in part, responsible for eating while not hungry. Awakening refreshed may help prevent eating just for eating’s sake. Amazing!
- Drink more water. Simple, or so it seems. If the stomach is full of water, we won’t feel hungry, right? Actually, it is not merely a distended stomach that makes us feel full. Often, dehydration makes us feel hungry. I don’t mean the “my mouth is a desert” kind of dehydration, just the “I’m feeling a little sluggish” kind of dehydration. Especially if the only liquids consumed contain caffeine, dehydration is an almost certainty at some point during the day. Drink some water-enough to need a bathroom break or two before lunch. Remember, if you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
- Avoid diet foods with artificial sweeteners and fake fats. Yes, those diet drinks and foods can actually make you hungrier and, ultimately, eat more. This often-quoted article makes a strong connection between weight gain and artificial sweeteners. Another, more recent report, linked here, takes aim at the claim that lowering the fat in foods by replacing it with fake fat will lower weight. Mice, when given potato chips made with fake fat to decrease their calories, just ate more to compensate. Aren’t we all just rats in a maze of cubicles? Eat real food, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Add some protein and fiber to your snack. Protein makes us feel full faster and longer. The hormones epinephrine and dopamine increase after a protein meal which make us more alert and active. Fiber just makes us full, plain and simple. Of course, it bulks up the contents of the stomach, distending it and making it empty slower. But it also slows down how fast sugars get absorbed, preventing that sugar rush followed by the sugar crash an hour later. That sugar crash make us really hungry. So spread out that full feeling by choosing protein and fiber-containing snacks.