When it comes to crushing hunger, it’s not when you eat but choosing the wrong meal (no matter the size) that can leave you hankering for more.
If you want to lose weight, curb your appetite by avoiding these foods that make you hungrier:
It’s true — once you pop, you can’t stop. Snacks preserved with sodium are generally highly refined, without filling you up.
Salty cravings seem to influence how much people eat, too. One study showed that added salt makes people eat more food and calories, regardless of how much fat was in the meal.
Besides, all that sodium leaves you thirsty. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, tricking your body into eating more instead of grabbing a glass of water.
Salads are the epitome of diet-friendly lunches — but if your salad is all kale, cucumber and spinach, odds are you’re not getting enough satisfying sustenance to keep you going until dinner.
Give your salad more punch with a topping of protein (boiled eggs, chicken, salmon, or legumes), topped with slow-burning carbs (like roasted sweet potato, corn or brown rice) and little fat (feta, nuts, seeds, tahini or avocado).
Don’t be afraid of these healthy foods — just add a reasonable balance of each and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction. No brownie temptations later.
Think an entire packet of rice crackers at the 3 p.m. slump are going to tide you over ’til dinner? Think again.
Rice crackers contain small traces of fiber and they’re made from highly refined rice that make our insulin levels spike, causing blood sugar to crash, making us feel hungry again — even if we’ve just eaten.
If you can’t beat the crunch, you’re better off choosing whole-grain varieties and topping them with avocado, nut butter or hummus for a more balanced, satiating snack.
Juice cleansing has become a popular way to lose the weight fast, and while you will be sipping on a wonderful antioxidant-rich and hydrating elixir, the lack of fiber means your body absorbs the calories quicker.
If you want to stay full, chew your calories instead, so your brain receives the hunger-combating cues that help you get from meal to meal.
Research has shown that alcohol flicks the brain into starvation mode. This increases your appetite and explains why we reach for a greasy snack after a night on the town.
What’s more, alcohol calories can’t be stored in the body, so the only way you can dispose of alcohol is to metabolize it for energy.
This means that anything you’re eating at the same time or shortly afterwards is going to be preferentially stored. So avoid binge drinking if you want to avoid binge eating.
THE TAKEAWAY: WINNING AT HUNGER
Whether it’s from intense exercise, stress, or lack of sleep, everyone has days of increased hunger. However, the best way to curb the cravings is to include the hunger-fighting combo of fiber-rich carbs and protein in each meal, as protein has staying power — keeping you fuller for longer — and fiber-rich carbs digest slowly so your blood sugar levels stay steady.
Kathleen Alleaume is a nutrition and exercise scientist and author of "What’s Eating You?" Follow her on Twitter @therightbalance.