Hello everyone! This past week has been even more hectic than last somehow. Working all day at one job, to come home to do the other till about 9pm each night is exhausting. This weekend has been about sleeping in and making sure we have food for the next hectic week. Hope yours has been more relaxing!!
A very common thing people tell me is that they have a “problem with portion control” or that they have a “sweet tooth problem” or a “carb issue”. This typically occurs at night. Do you ever tell yourself this?
When we start talking, it turns out that many people eat practically nothing during the day and then are starving at night-time and overeat, typically carbohydrates. Many people feel guilty and shameful of this.
Well, I am here to tell you that this is normal.
Our bodies are hardwired to crave carbohydrates because carbs are our bodies preferred method of fuel. Those carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which fuels our muscles and our brains. Without enough fuel, from carbohydrates or energy in general, we may feel irritable, anxious, hangry, or lethargic. This is your body’s way of saying, “feed me!”
If you are hungry, the fastest, easiest way for your body to fuel itself is with a mass amount of carbs. So, it’s no wonder that you may crave sweets or an entire bowl of pasta if you haven’t eaten enough throughout the day.
This is NOT a matter of willpower, or a problem with you in any way. It is not shameful or a deficit to your character. It is simply a biological process that our body has done for thousands of years, to keep you ALIVE.
Here are some examples of why you may be hungry:
- Eating salad for lunch with no protein or carbohydrate
- Skipping a snack before a meal out with friends
- Not eating anything till dinner
- Eating a normal breakfast, going to get some physical activity, then not eating till lunch
- Have a piece of fruit as a snack
Is this you? Are you ravenous at night?
How you can combat this: eat protein, carbohydrates, and fruit and/or veggies at each meal. The combination of these foods will help you stay full longer, stabilize your blood sugar, and give fuel to your gut microbiota (which is really important).
Using the MyPlate method might be a helpful tool in this process.
- Eating salad for lunch with no protein or carbohydrate –> add a whole grain roll + chicken to your salad
- Skipping a snack before a meal out with friends –> eat a snack before you go out (example: apples + pb)
- Not eating anything till dinner –> eat lunch!
- Eating a normal breakfast, going to get some physical activity, then not eating till lunch –> have a snack after your activity (example: yogurt + apple)
- Have a piece of fruit as a snack –> add a protein like boiled eggs, string cheese, or pb
Here are some meal ideas if that helps too!
- Breakfast: oatmeal made with milk + mixed berries + peanut butter + walnuts + honey
- Snack: apple + peanut butter
- Lunch: sandwich on whole grain bread + turkey + cheese + mayo + lettuce + tomato + pickle + an apple
- Snack: pear + protein bar (KIND/Rx Bar)
- Dinner: pasta + red sauce with ground beef, tomato, onion, zucchini, mushrooms, red wine (yes) + side salad
- Snack: grapefruit + chocolate
So, instead of blaming yourself, take a look at your day. Ask, did I eat enough?
Hunger will also fluctuate day-to-day depending on things like sleep, activity, stress, social situations, what you ate yesterday and more. Other questions to ask: Have I been active? How did I sleep last night? Am I at a social event where people are eating? Did I eat enough yesterday? Don’t expect to eat the same amount every single day. These things will all directly impact your satiety levels.
I also want to point out that drinking water or tea when you are hungry, chewing gum, eating low calorie foods like popcorn, rice, cakes, diet soda, celery etc. will not ease this hunger. It is OK to be hungry. It may be helpful to be a kind observer in this process. “Oh I am hungry. That’s kind of annoying, but I did go to yoga this morning and only had an apple after. Maybe I need more food.” Reframe those thoughts!
There is no reason to feel guilt for something that is, for the most part, out of your control. What you CAN do is take a look at the bigger picture. Remember, hunger is simply your bodies way of telling you what it needs. Listen closely.
Have a great week!