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Controlling the hunger sensation

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Whether you call it starved, famished, or ravenous, most of us know what it feels like to be really hungry. Your stomach is growling, you might feel a little dizzy or lightheaded, you have trouble concentrating, and may even experience a headache or stomachache.

You must eat to sustain life, and hunger is the way that your body naturally prompts you to seek food, but extreme hunger can be disastrous for those of us who are trying to watch our weight. How do you avoid reaching that state that has you reaching for whatever food is at hand?

Don’t skip meals

This seems like a no-brainer, but skipping meals is one of the best ways to guarantee binging later. Breakfast is important, but so is lunch, and supper, and a snack or two if you need them. Eating regular meals keeps your metabolism humming along and keeps extreme hunger in check. 

Have protein with each meal

It takes your body longer to digest protein. Include a little protein with each meal to keep you satisfied longer and help to control blood sugar spikes. Meat and beans are good sources. For breakfast it might mean an egg, some Greek yogurt, peanut butter on your toast, or a handful of nuts in your oatmeal.    

Fill up on fiber; limit sweets and refined carbs

We need carbohydrates for energy, but the wrong kind can spike blood sugar. What goes up quickly most assuredly comes down quickly and leaves us feeling weak, tired, and yes, hungry. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals and choose whole, unprocessed grain foods. The fiber in these foods keeps them moving through your system more slowly.

Stay hydrated

Some people can mistake thirst for hunger and reach for something to eat when what they really need is fluids. Water is a great choice because it is basically free – of cost, calories (from sugar – see refined carbohydrates above), and chemical additives.  Unsweetened tea and coffee are other good choices.

Keep healthy snacks handy

One of my mottos is “Never go anywhere without food.” Prepare for longer periods between meals by bringing a bag of nuts, some trail mix, or unsweetened cereal.

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