Do you sometimes feel ravenous, even though you just polished off a tasty lunch, a full dinner, or a midnight snack? Some food ingredients can trick our bodies into not recognizing when we’re full, causing “rebound hunger” that can add inches to our waistlines. But these simple tweaks can help quiet your cravings for good.
You drink too much soda
Sodas, iced teas, and other sweetened beverages are our biggest source of high-fructose corn syrup—accounting for about two-thirds of our annual intake. New research from Yale University showed that when 20 healthy adults underwent MRI sessions looking at their brains while drinking liquids, high-fructose beverages reduced blood flow and activity in brain regions that regulate appetite, and ratings of satiety and fullness were lower when compared to drinks that just contained glucose.
And a previous study from the University of California at San Francisco indicates that fructose can trick our brains into craving more food, even when we’re full. It works by impeding the body’s ability to use leptin, the “satiation hormone” that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat, researchers say.
Americans consume 23 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Try these 6 Ways to Beat Your Sugar Habit and save your gut.
Your dinner came out of a can
Many canned foods are high in the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which the Food and Drug Administration stated was a chemical “of some concern.” Exposure to BPA can cause abnormal surges in leptin that, according to Harvard University researchers, leads to food cravings and obesity.
Your breakfast wasn't big enough
After following 6,764 healthy people for almost 4 years, University of Cambridge researchers found that those who ate just 300 calories for breakfast gained almost twice as much weight as those who ate 500 calories or more for breakfast. The reason: Eating a big breakfast makes for smaller rises in blood sugar and insulin throughout the day, meaning fewer sudden food cravings.
Another breakfast tip—add protein. One recent study shows that eating a breakfast that had 30-39 grams of higher protein items like sausage and eggs curbed hunger throughout the morning, compared with a low-protein breakfast that had items like pancakes and syrup.
See if you're starting your morning right with The New Rules of Breakfast.
You skipped the salad
Most Americans don’t eat enough leafy greens, which are rich in the essential B-vitamin folate and help protect against depression, fatigue, and weight gain. In one study, dieters with the highest levels of folate in their bodies lost 8.5 times as much weight as those with the lowest levels. Leafy greens are also high in vitamin K, another insulin-regulating nutrient that helps quash cravings. Best sources: Romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, radicchio. Need more help?
Check out the 5 Best Frozen Fruits and Vegetables for great tasting (and good for you) produce.
You don't stop for tea time
According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who drank one cup of black tea after eating high-carb foods decreased their blood-sugar levels by 10 percent for 2 and a half hours after the meal, which means they stayed full longer and had fewer food cravings. Researchers credit the polyphenolic compounds in black tea for suppressing rebound hunger.
Eat more, stay full longer, and still lose serious weight with these 7 Ways to Outsmart Hunger.
You're not staying fluid
Dehydration often mimics the feeling of hunger. If you’ve just eaten and still feel hungry, drink a glass of water before eating more, and see if your desires don’t diminish.
You may even lose weight if you make sure you have a glass of water handy during each meal while dieting. One Virginia Tech study found that older people who had two cups of water before a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories. And over the course of 12 weeks, those dieters who drank water before meals lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake.
Researchers in Australia found that visual distractions can help curb cravings. To test yourself, envision a huge, sizzling steak. If you’re truly hungry, the steak will seem appealing. But if that doesn’t seem tempting, chances are you’re in need of a distraction, not another meal. Or another handy distraction when your belly rumbles: The Exercise That Kills Cravings.
Your cereal leaves you cold
If you regularly have hunger pangs soon after a bowl of cereal for breakfast—or as a late night snack—then make a swap to oatmeal. A recent study from Louisiana State University found that when 46 adults had either a 363 calorie bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios cereal or oatmeal, feelings of fullness and hunger were lower when participants ate oatmeal compared to the ready-to-eat cereal. The increase in satiety could be attributed to the viscosity of the oatmeal, researchers wrote, and also the fact that it has more soluble oat fiber than most cereals.