5 healthy foods to eat when you’re hungry all the time…
Nobody likes a growling stomach—it’s embarrassing and makes you more likely to gorge on less-than-stellar foods when you do eat.
What’s new: Researchers are now discovering simple ways to harness the hunger-fighting effects of some healthy foods you’ve probably never considered to ease your growling stomach. What you need to know…
WHY AM I SO HUNGRY?
Hunger is normal—it’s your body’s way of helping you maintain a balance between the amount of calories being consumed and burned. But some people feel hungry even when they haven’t missed a meal…and may feel ravenous most of the time.* Among the possible causes…
- Prolonged stress, anxiety and depression. These strong emotions can trigger the release of appetite-fueling hormones, such as cortisol.
- Lack of sleep. A new study shows that too little sleep kickstarts the body’s endocannabinoid system—the same physiological response that causes the “munchies” in marijuana users.
- Untreated diabetes. It impairs the body’s ability to properly use glucose as a source of energy, which leads to increased hunger.
- Certain drugs. A handful of medications cause hunger as a side effect. Among the worst offenders: Antihistamines…antidepressants—especially tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil)…antiseizure drugs, such as valproic acid…diabetes drugs, such as sulfonylureas including glipizide (Glucotrol)…and corticosteroids (such as cortisone).
When fighting excessive hunger that is not due to a medical condition or drug side effect, the best approach is to make smart food choices. Recent research shows that the trick is to focus on foods that are rich in fiber and protein—both are powerful hunger-fighting nutrients.
Fiber-rich foods tend to be chewy, and the longer it takes to chew a food, the more time there is for the hormones that signal fullness (satiety) to reach your brain. Fiber also stays in the stomach for a long time, so you feel fuller…longer. Protein is also known to increase satiety.
TOP 5 HUNGER FIGHTERS
With these guidelines in mind, here are five great hunger-busting foods…
1. Wheat berries. These nutty, chewy kernels of wheat are easy to add to your daily diet and offer generous amounts of both protein (6 g per quarter cup, uncooked) and fiber (6 g). They’re better than, say, whole wheat pasta because they have a lot more fiber and protein.
My advice: For a hot morning meal, cook and enjoy wheat berries as you would oatmeal…or toss them in salads. If you’re gluten-free: Try quinoa or sorghum.
2. Almonds. Nuts combine protein, healthy fat and fiber into one small package. For example, one ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts) delivers 6 g of protein and 3.5 g of fiber. Other high-protein nuts include peanuts and pistachios.
My advice: Snack on one ounce of high-protein nuts daily. If you enjoy baking, substitute one-fourth to one-third of the white flour you use with almond flour to give your baked goods more staying power.
3. Apples. Even though apples are not a great source of protein (one medium-sized apple has about 0.5 g), this fruit contains a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which may help prevent the blood sugar spikes that can lead to increased fat storage and more sugar cravings.
My advice: Enjoy fresh apples. One medium apple contains 4 g of fiber. Other fiber-rich fruits: Figs and prunes (8 g and 6 g, respectively, in one-half cup)…pears (6 g)…and oranges (4 g).
4. Lentils. These plant-based gems are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and slow-digesting carbs for sustained energy. One-half cup of cooked lentils delivers about 8 g each of protein and fiber.
My advice: Sprinkle cooked lentils into salads and scrambled eggs.
5. Collard greens. OK, so you might not think of collard greens as your go-to rescue food. But one cup of the cooked dark, leafy greens offers 7 g of fiber and 5 g of protein. Cooked spinach and mustard greens offer similar amounts.
My advice: Chop and sauté collard greens in olive oil, garlic, lemon and herbs to coax out their rich flavor. In a salad, dress any of these greens with a vinaigrette made with walnut, flaxseed or soybean oil—all three contain alpha–linolenic acid, which, according to a 2015 Japanese study, delays the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
*If you experience excessive hunger, consult your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition or medication side effect.