By Beth Donovan, for SparkPeople
The day started innocently enough. I ate my healthy breakfast, and I really wasn't hungry after that. A car trip later and I'm drooling like Homer Simpson at the sight of a Dunkin' Donuts sign. Should I or shouldn't I? One won't hurt. No, usually one doesn't, but it does cause cravings--mad crazy cravings! I find myself staring straight into the abyss that might be a downfall of super sugary and fatty portions. I control it by driving through and getting one and leaving. If I get any more than that, I'm in trouble.
Surely you know the foods you eat that cause cravings. They are the magical ones like chocolate that send you into another world with just a thought. Everyone has their personal favorites. We often concentrate on what we shouldn't eat in large quantities or what triggers our hunger, but what about those foods that satisfy us? Finding foods we should be eating that are healthful, tasty, and filling can be fun.
Hunger sometimes has much to do with emotions and comforting, rather than true stomach hunger.It has to do with what others are eating and what time of day it is. Hunger many times is just triggered by the setting of being somewhere or doing something. Smell is a very strong hunger trigger. So with all of these false signals telling you to eat, what do you do?
What I do is stay full. I keep water around at all times. I also eat every 3-4 hours, so I'm in no danger of real physical hunger ganging up on me with some false signal and sending me on a binge. I enjoy healthier comfort foods than I used to eat. Fiber and protein both take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. Basically timing is everything. Your body breaks down carbohydrates within the first half to two hours after you eat them. During hours two through four, your body is working on proteins, while in hours four through six your body is breaking down fats. This is why it is important to get a mix of foods at every meal and not wait longer than every 4 hours to eat. I have many favorite hunger fighting foods now, but for the sake of time, I will tell you 15 of my basic must-haves. These foods are generally high in fiber, protein, or both and may have healthy fat included.
- Veggie and fruit trays are wonderful. They look pretty and cost no more than a big fast food meal. Whether you want to cut up your own fruits and vegetables or buy them precut at the store, they are an easy to grab snack that will fix either a sweet or a salt tooth.
- Nut butters are satisfying and quick. They really last as far as a hunger fighter goes. Most are full of healthy fats, protein, and convenient. I like to pair mine with anything from whole grain bread and oatmeal to fruit. A secret to making it spread farther is to microwave it for 15-30 seconds. It can also be melted enough to be a dip.
- Oatmeal is a soothing food. When I'm upset or have a sick tummy, I get out the oatmeal. I make it with milk rather than water to add protein, vitamins and minerals. I especially like this for a night time snack and mix things like peanut butter, cinnamon, and raw stevia in it.
Whole grain cereal is a great sweet snack that is crunchy and rich with fiber and b vitamins. My personal favorites are all in the Kashi line of cereals. Be sure that the ingredients say whole grain _____ first and do not list enriched ingredients.
Fat free milk is a staple for me. I choose organic for a variety of reasons, and I think it has made a difference in my weight loss.
Yogurt is a sweet dessert like treat for me. I don't buy light because I don't particularly want the artificial sweeteners. My favorite is Brown Cow Cream Top. It's a real treat to me. I also like Greek yogurts for their extra protein.
Whole grain breads, crackers, and pastas are great bases for sandwiches, snacks, or your favorite Italian cuisine. Whole grains provide fiber and don't digest quickly so you stay full longer.
Tomato juice and sauce are staples for me too. I often find myself on the short end of my vegetable requirements. Both ingredients can be used to make soups, pasta sauces and more.
100% pure fruit juices make a sweet drink mixed when with sparkling water. It's a great to have a mocktail. Sometimes a cool fruity drink just hits the spot.
Popcorn is a wholegrain snack that you can make in either healthy oil on the stovetop, as I do, or air pop. Either way, it is yummy and takes a long time to eat.
My favorite hunger fighting snack is an apple with melted peanut butter as dip. The mix of sweet and salty together really crushes cravings.
Almonds are a simple fast snack that can last you for awhile. Almonds are full of healthy fats and fiber. I avoid the roasted ones with added oils and opt for the raw ones.
Cinnamon adds antioxidants and a spicy sweet flavor. Often, I stir cinnamon and a little nutmeg into warm milk for a satisfying drink that's similar to those I can buy at a coffee house, without the hefty price tag! It is really filling and soothing before bed.
Kidney beans are fiber packed and easy to whip into a salad with no fat. Just add some of your favorite vinegar and seasonings to a can of drained kidney beans and you are ready to go.
- Most fruits are very filling and keep the calorie count down. They will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth. Keep a list of what is in season and when. Then try all the new seasonal fruits you never thought to try before.
You may have your own list of staples and I would love to hear them! I'm always looking for ideas to stay full and lose weight. I hope my list helps give you some new ideas.
What are your go-to fill-you-up foods?
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