Do you struggle to make it between meals without your stomach growling at you? Are you finding yourself more hungry than usual? You’re not alone! Research shows that 49% of participants in the UK snacked at least once per day.1https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1097766/frequency-of-eating-snacks-in-the-uk
While there is nothing necessarily wrong with snacking between meals, if you find yourself relying on that mid-afternoon pick-me-up, it is time to explore why!
There could be many reasons behind your hunger. Do any of these sound familiar?
1. You’re not listening to your body
Hunger is your body’s way of telling you it needs topping up with fuel. Your body needs a variety of foods to thrive and make it through the day, including fat, protein and carbohydrates as the main macronutrients. Do you ever restrict yourself in the morning, only to end up eating more than planned in the evening? 1 in 4 adults in the UK reportedly skip breakfast.2https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/breakfast-adults-skipping-meals-survey-b1840280.html
Skipping meals is not the way to lose weight, if this is your intended goal. Here at CG, we’re not fans of fad diets or restrictive eating. (In case you missed it, read Shann’s article for more information on how fad diets can do more harm than good.)
Your gut bugs are living creatures – just like you – and they need consistency in the form of regular, punctuated meals. The key to gut-brain health – as well as healthy weight loss – is developing a healthy routine.
2. You’re not eating enough protein
Eating protein along with carbohydrates at mealtimes slows the release of energy and increases satiety. Sources of protein include meat, tofu, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
Kefir is also a great source of protein! Starting your morning with kefir can help increase satiety and curb sugar cravings, so that you will find it easier to make good choices throughout the day.
3. You’re not eating enough fibre
Fibre slows the release of energy into your body, creating longer-lasting fuel. Eating high-GI, heavily-processed foods will lead to cyclical waves of high and low energy. To combat this, add more complex carbohydrates to your meals such as whole grains (oats, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth), pulses, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Why not start your day with a Gut-Brain Health Smoothie, adding in 1 TBSP of fibre-rich CG Complete Prebiotic? Your gut bugs will thank you for it, later in the day! Click here for more ways to add fibre to your diet.
4. You may actually be thirsty
If you’ve found yourself feeling hungry between meals, you could actually be thirsty! It’s easily done; caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect that can leave you dehydrated, and during the warmer months you sweat more,
Next time you’re feeling hungry in between meals, try drinking a glass of water, waiting 15-20 minutes and then asking yourself again whether you still feel hungry.
5. Are you stressed?
Long-term – or chronic – stress causes your body to release cortisol. This “stress hormone” triggers the release of glucose (sugar) to provide your body with energy during high-stress periods.3https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22187-cortisol When stressed, your body burns through this supply quickly, resulting in an increase in your appetite.
Studies show that comfort foods, such as those rich in fat and sugar, can dampen the stress cycle, satisfying that stress-induced hunger craving. However, eating a lot of heavily processed foods can lead to a vicious cycle of energy fluctuations.4https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat While they may satisfy that hunger craving in the short term, you’re not nourishing your body in the long-term.
Ok, reducing your stress is easier said than done! But take this as a cue to reflect on how you’re feeling and make some changes. De-stress with these 3 tips from Shann.
6. Are you getting enough sleep?
Sleep is crucial for your health. Have you ever found yourself reaching for a pack of crisps or chocolate bar after a poor night’s sleep? We’ve all been there. One study showed that, of 16 young men who underwent sleep interventions to examine the effect of sleep on diet, those who experienced sleep deprivation had increased ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone!), self-reported higher levels of hunger and chose larger portions the morning after.5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23428257/
So, it’s time to start prioritising your sleep! Adults need on average 8 hours of quality sleep each night – but of course, this varies from person to person. Margaret Thatcher reportedly got by on 4 hours a night, while Winston Churchill relied on daily afternoon naps!6https://oddmattress.co.uk/infamous-sleep-habits-from-4-hours-a-night-to-late-afternoon-naps/ The key is to listen to your body. Insufficient sleep can trap you in the sleep-stress cycle. Read more here: https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/are-you-trapped-in-the-sleep-stress-cycle/
- Start your day with a Gut-Brain Health Smoothie, rich in protein and fibre.
- Add more fibre-rich complex carbohydrates and protein into each meal to provide you with longer-lasting energy.
- Still fancy a snack? Plan ahead and prepare some healthy snacks like yoghurt and fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Prioritise your sleep and focus on reducing your stress levels.