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If you feel hungry all the time you may well end up eating more food than you really need in an effort to feel satisfied. Some of us also find ourselves consuming excess calories in an attempt to satiate an emotional or physical need other than hunger.
The most effective ways to curb food cravings include distracting yourself from eating, choosing foods that will keep you feeling fuller for longer and ultimately avoiding thinking about food too much. Read on for six of the best ways to beat the urge to eat more than you should.
If you want to curb hunger then protein-rich foods such as chicken, nuts or eggs can help you to feel full while releasing energy slowly. Protein is hard to digest, meaning your body burns more calories processing protein than with any other food group. Studies suggest that protein-rich diets lead to higher thermogenesis (heat and energy production) and satiety than diets with a lower protein content.
Eating a balanced meal that includes at least 400 calories and 25 grams of protein will help you avoid feeling hungry later. Some good options include salmon salad, vegetable bean chilli dishes and roast chicken with vegetables.
If you find yourself reaching for the nearest biscuit or cake, it might be that you’re feeling bored and food is something that you use as a means of entertainment. Distracting yourself can prevent overeating, so try squeezing a stress ball when the cravings kick in, playing a card game or reading a book – anything to divert your thought processes away from food.
If you really can’t avoid snacking, try to fill up on healthy foods such as fresh fruit, carrots, celery sticks, hummus, nuts and seeds. Keeping these foods close by makes it easier to make healthier choices that you won’t feel guilty about, and will hopefully stop you munching on calorie-laden snacks such as crisps and chocolate.
What you may think of as food cravings could actually be thirst, so try having a glass of water before reaching for food as you may find this satisfies you. Studies have concluded that staying hydrated doesn’t actually prevent hunger, but it is great for your all round health, and starting off each meal with a glass of water may help you to eat less overall as you will feel fuller.
Whenever you feel tempted to snack on sugary or salty foods that are high in fat and of low nutritional value, try brushing your teeth. We often turn to food when we're bored, even though we’re not really hungry. Brushing your teeth will make you more reluctant to eat, as your minty mouth will affect the taste of food and eating will spoil the clean feeling. Regular brushing will also give you fresh breath and provide protection against tooth decay. Bear in mind, however, that you should avoid brushing your teeth for around 60 minutes after consuming acidic food or drinks.