Eating when you’re hungry is a no-brainer. However there are foods you could be eating to tackle your hunger that actually make it worse.
Foods with a high glycaemic index are digested quickly and can boost your blood sugar levels, leaving you hungry and potentially eating more than you had planned to eat.
Here are some foods that you should avoid if you want to stave off hunger pains, as well as a few alternatives that should keep you satisfied.
Vegemite toast is a standard breakfast but if you find yourself unsatisfied shortly after eating it your choice of bread could be the problem.
White flour has been processed to remove the bran, which takes away most of the filling fibre content of your toast. It also has a high glycemic index score, meaning you’ll get a spike of energy and then crash, leaving you wanting more. Choose breads that are whole wheat or whole grain instead, as their fibre content means they’ll be digested slower, leaving you fuller for longer.
Fruit has plenty of health benefits, but by removing the fibre in the juicing process you're left with a sugary drink with little to make you satisfied. Like white bread, without the fibre you’ll be left feeling hungry again, and the blood sugar spike will leave you tired and in need of an energy boost. Opt instead for a healthy smoothie where the whole fruit is blended.
Not only are snacks like salt and vinegar chips unhealthy, they can also leave you craving more food to satisfy your hunger. It’s common to crave a sweet treat after eating a salty snack because the easily digested carbohydrates in snacks such as chips are linked in your brain to sweet foods. If you fill up on salty treats you’ll often still feel the need for something sweet, so bear this in mind when indulging in chips and keep your intake to a minimum.
Forget the excess of carbs, fat and sugar, the ingredients inside your brown paper takeaway bag are also encouraging you to eat more of it. The sugar from burger buns and toppings causes a sugar spike, leading to hunger. The high salt content of your french fries can lead to dehydration, which is often mistaken for hunger. This combo is tempting you to order seconds (or just get a larger serving to begin with), so maybe it’s best to avoid the golden arches altogether.
Craving a kebab after a night out? It's not just your tipsy brain letting your strict dieting inhibitions go. Research has shown alcohol decreases the amount of leptin - the hormone that makes you feel full - your body produces. Add to that the dehydrating effects of alcohol, and you can find yourself eating to make up for the energy your body thinks it’s lost.
Everyone loves pasta and pizza, but these Italian foods are just as problematic as white bread thanks to the shared ingredient of processed white flour. What makes pasta and pizza different is that it’s easy to simply overeat that particular food, rather than sticking to the recommended portion size. The simple carbs in the pasta and dough create an insulin spike, which will make you eat more because you’re still hungry.
Sure, raw fish is healthy, but when combined with sweetened white sushi rice you won’t feel satisfied for long. White rice has a similar effect to white bread or pasta in that it’s digested quickly and has relatively little fibre. If you can’t go without it at lunch, chose sushi with brown rice to stay full for longer.
When you drink a diet Coke or put an artificial sweetener in your coffee, your brain is triggered to expect the energy boost you would get from ordinary sugars (in the form of carbs). This may create more hunger as your body tries to make up for the lack of energy it's expecting.
Cereal can be healthy if you make the right choices, but there are plenty of options that won't see you through 'til lunchtime. Many popular cereals have a high sugar percentage and a low amount of dietary fibre, which will lead to a spike then a crash in sugar levels. Avoid cereals like Nutrigrain and Cornflakes, and opt instead for oats or a couple of Weetbix to fill you up in the morning.