Maybe you’re in your second or third trimester of pregnancy. Or maybe you’ve just started a new, more intense workout plan. Or maybe you have kids who continuously claim to be “starving”. How do you handle keeping yourself and your family satiated without becoming a short order cook or resorting to junk food? Here are seven tips to satiate even the most ravenous of us.
- Balance your nutrients
First, let’s look at mealtime. Everyone is different and requires a different balance of proteins, high quality carbohydrates, and healthy fats to feel complete with their meal. So if you’re trying to find the right balance for you, play with different ratios of each type of food. If your chicken salad isn’t doing it for you, try adding in some quinoa, or chickpeas, or maybe some different types of vegetables like summer squash. Try drizzling some olive oil over your dish or adding some nut butter or tahini. Perhaps top your dish with some crumbled walnuts or sprinkle in some hemp hearts.
- Play with flavors
Have you ever felt like you weren’t quite ready to step away from the table until you had a little more of something salty? Or something sweet? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are five “tastes” that are recognized and paired with corresponding seasons, types of energy, and organ systems. You can read more about this at NutritionStudies.org. And in Ayurvedic medicine, they add one more – read about them at EatTasteHealh.com. Within this theories, all foods are made up of one or more of these tastes: bitter, salty, sweet, sour, pungent and astringent. You can strategize your meal to include each of the tastes to have a very balanced approach – or take a more medicinal approach by adding more of one taste or another to help you balance an imbalance, for example if you’re looking for more detoxification from your meal, you’ll want to add more bitter greens like kale or dandelion greens or if you’re looking to soothe your system and relax, you may add more sweet flavor like a baked sweet potato or some fruit.
- Try a heartier breakfast
You may also want to experiment with the size and timing of your meals. For instance, do you eat a small bowl of oatmeal or cereal in the morning, only to feel hungry about 30-60 minutes later? Are you eating a salad for lunch at your desk, but once you’ve finished the salad, you feel like you’ve eaten nothing? Try eating a more substantial breakfast – I’m not necessarily telling you to have the lumberjack special. But play with adding more protein and healthy fats. If you really love cereal, maybe add that cereal to some whole milk yogurt and toss in some nuts and berries. If you’re a smoothie person, add some coconut oil and some extra protein powder along with your fruits and milk (almond, rice, hemp, cow, goat). Or experiment with some veggie omelet and a side of sprouted bread with nut butter. Getting a heartier start to your day may set you up to feel more satiated all day long.
- Eat high quality power-snacks
Now let’s get to the snacking issue. I’m a huge fan of snacks…high quality, nutritious snacks, that is. When I know I’m going to be out the majority of the day, I make sure that I have a couple of snack bars with me that are mostly made of nuts and very low in sugar. I also have cut up fruit with yogurt, sprinkled with nuts and hemp hearts. Or I have chia seed pudding with fruit and sunflower seeds. Or I have seedy crackers with nut butter and carrot or celery sticks, and maybe some cheese on the side. What I DON’T do is wait until I’m starving. Or have lots of junk food around. Or eat something wimpy like just a few slices of apple or a handful of tortilla chips and then wonder why I’m still not hungry. That just won’t cut it. And it will NEVER get me through to the next meal.
- Don’t let your thirst disguise itself as hunger
few last tips that can make a huge difference: Drink water…all…day…long. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty. Not sure if you’re hydrated enough? Your pee should be light yellow (but not clear). If it’s dark yellow, drink more water.
- Eat intentionally
Stay focused on your food when you’re eating. If you’re starting at a computer screen, or flipping through your social media account, you’re going to rob yourself of the experience of eating. And most likely, you’re not going to feel as if you’ve eaten anything at all. So go ahead and focus your attention on enjoying that healthy lunch you packed!
- Sleep when you’re tired – eat only when hungry
Are you tired? If so, don’t eat. Sleep. Ever noticed that the later you stay up, the more likely you are to snack? It works the same way if you’re exhausted during the day as well. Better to find a way to relax or meditate for a moment and get your energy back up instead of reaching for the closest sugary snack or caffeine boost.
Release yourself – and your family – from the burden of being constantly hungry. You can do it! Set yourself up for success: Strategize your meals to start the day with hearty, whole foods. Keep in mind a balance of nutrients and flavors. Arm yourself (and your kids) with plenty of healthy snacks that will keep them going in between meals. Stay hydrated throughout the day. And sleep and eat intentionally.