Ever felt like you could eat the entire world? Yeah. Us too. But it might not be completely your fault... You could be choosing foods that are actually making you hungrier.
Juices. Juicing keeps all the sugary yumminess of the fruit, but removes all the pulp - the important fibre that's great for your digestive system. It'll satisfy your sweet tooth and yes, you'll still benefit from the vitamins in the fruit. But it'll only fill you up for a teeny amount of time, and it will spike your blood sugar level; making you even hungrier a little while after drinking it.
You'd be much better off having a fruit smoothie instead; and add in some healthy green veg like spinach or kale too. You'll get your hit of sweetness but can rest assured that you're keeping all the fibrous goodness as well as those body-beautiful vitamins.
White bread & pasta. The main ingredient in these carbohydrates is white flour; flour that has been stripped of the bran (its outer shell), which reduces its fibre content. Like with the juices, this reduced fibre content means they're easy to digest so won't fill you up for as long, and white bread has often got added sugar too; which will spike your insulin levels and improves the taste, meaning it's easier to eat more than you really need. The insulin spike could lead to an energy crash later on, leading you to eat more as a result.
Stick to wholewheat versions to keep the fibre high. Also, that shop bought sauce you're adding to the pasta? It might be convenient, but chances are it's full of sugar and salt, which won't help with that inevitable crash later on.
Salty snacks. These type of snacks are usually simple carbs, like crisps or pretzels, made out of white flour. So we've got the same issues that the bread and pasta cause with the less than ideal blood sugar spike and reduced fibre.
You've also got to think about the high salt content. Yes, it tastes delicious. But salt can make you feel thirsty which can be confused with hunger, so it could cause you to think you're hungrier than you really are.
Cereals. We're talking about the sweeter types; think Coco Pops, Shreddies, and even Special K. Again, it's the pesky white flour used in these type of cereals along with the added sugar, which will cause those spikes in blood sugar and later inevitable energy crash.
Cereals may be delicious and a great quick breakfast, but there is very little protein or fats in them, so they really won't keep you full for long.
Rather than grabbing the Rice Krispies, look for wholegrain and bran cereals instead, or choose healthy porridge oats, and serve with Greek yoghurt for a hit of protein.
MSG. You've probably heard of MSG - monosodium glutamate - a flavour enhancer. Usually found in fast food (and particularly in Chinese dishes), it can creep into other convenient food items, so check the ingredients.
MSG is really not good for you; studies have shown that it triggers an increase in appetite which is obviously going to make you eat more, and it seems that the more you eat MSG, the more it will affect you - it's a vicious circle.
Fast food. So fast food can contain the appetite-increasing MSG, but is also high in trans fats (which inflame the gut, confusing you as to whether you're full or not); high in sugar which will lead to those bloody sugar spikes we talked about earlier; and the salt content is usually extremely high, which won't do your hydration or hunger levels any good.
We're not saying never eat fast food again; pizza is too damn good for that. But just make sure you're having it as an infrequent treat, every now and then. Plus, you'll enjoy it more if you don't have it so often!
Alcohol. It might fill you up at the time; anyone else ended up having an incredibly heavy night out as a result of skipping dinner because the 'booze filled you up'? Uh, yeah. Us neither... But alcohol really will make you hungrier. It reduces your levels of leptin (a hormone which helps you feel full) and it also depletes your body's glycogen levels (your carbohydrate stores), meaning you'll crave more carbs to replace what you've lost from the drinking. So that's why chips are a must at the end of a boozy night!
Not only this, but alcohol dehydrates you, so you might feel hungrier later on as a result and that inevitable hangover's going to make you binge the next day.
Fizzy drinks. Again, the main culprit here is the sugar. A can of Coke might perk you up temporarily, but it'll spike your insulin levels and lead to a crash later on, so you could end up eating more. Check out our article on fizzy drinks and what will happen if you give them up here.
Chewing gum. Yes, gum can be an actual lifesaver at times when you need fresh breath after a tuna salad or strong coffee, but it might make you crave more food. A lot of models chew gum to take their mind off hunger and it's a frequently-used dieting technique; instead of succumbing to sweet cravings, grab a stick of Juicy Fruit instead.
Yep, it'll satisfy that sweet tooth in the first instance. But the chewing action and sweet flavour tricks your body into thinking it's getting food, so your gastric 'juices' start to work in the stomach in preparation for the food it thinks is on its way... And then nothing happens. So your stomach will begin to churn, producing gas and making you feel hungry, and sometimes a bit sick too.
Artificial sweeteners. Ok, so sweeteners are a lesser evil than sugar - in terms of calories. But (similar to gum) they stimulate your brain cells and body into thinking you're going to get a hit of calories... And then your stomach doesn't get this fuel. Then you'll crave more calories because your brain and body has been expecting some, hasn't got any, and so makes you even hungrier.
Obviously they're a chemical and not great for you, but it's got to be said, if it's a case of having one tablet of sweetener in your morning coffee or the usual two heaped spoonfuls, the sweetener's probably going to be the better option in terms of health.
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