Recognizing hunger cues is the key to controlling your appetite and reaching weight loss goals, but hunger can be deceiving. Pay attention to how these four things affect your appetite to prevent overeating.
Too many cocktails
Despite the grumbling stomach you might feel after a few drinks, most research doesn’t directly link alcohol to increased hunger. But alcoholic drinks gradually decrease your inhibitions making it much easier to order nachos instead of a salad or add dessert at the end of a meal. These extra calories, plus the calories in your drink, can result in weight gain. Pay attention to how much you snack while sipping.
Lack of sleep
Surveys show that most people get only five to six hours of sleep per night, but research suggests you need seven to nine. Skimping on sleep causes an increase in appetite stimulating hormones and a decrease in hormones that signal fullness. The increased cravings and hunger that result can lead to a higher calorie intake and weight gain.
Stress causes spikes in cortisol levels, which lead to increased hunger and emotional eating. Cravings for high-carbohydrate, high-fat, and high-sugar foods are common during times of stress because these foods trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain that help relieve tension. Without alternatives to relieve stress, like deep breathing exercises and physical activity, emotional eating becomes difficult to resist.
Refined carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, and pasta can cause a spike in blood sugar that is quickly followed by a drop, often called a crash. This crash results in hunger making you feel as if you didn’t eat an hour ago. You can help to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce spikes and crashes by eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and including lean protein with your meals and snacks.
Spring rolls make a healthy light lunch at home or on the go. They are easy to make and you can take the opportunity to stuff them with a variety of vegetables. Pack spring rolls in your lunch cooler and pair them with a fresh salad or low-sodium soup for a nutritious, filling meal.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated onion
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup shredded carrot
¼ lb. raw shrimp, cleaned and chopped
½ small red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
½ cup shredded cabbage
1 green onion, greens only, sliced
½ tsp low-sodium soy sauce
¼ tsp dark sesame oil
6 rice paper wraps
6 small sprigs of cilantro
Heat the oil over medium-high in a medium skillet. Add the grated onion and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the carrot and cook another minute. Add the shrimp and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to turn opaque.
Add the bell pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the cabbage, green onion, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Soften the rice paper wraps with water according to package directions. Lay a single wrap on a plate. Place 1/6 of the shrimp and vegetable mix towards one end. Lay one small sprig of cilantro on top. Fold in each side of the wrap and then roll up, similar to a burrito.
Serve at room temperature or cold.
Nutrition information for 1 spring roll: Calories 76; Total Fat 1.7 g; Saturated Fat 0.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 26 mg; Sodium 134 mg; Carbohydrate 11 g; Fiber 0.6 g; Sugar 1.1g; Protein 4.2 g
Yoga reduces stress, improves strength, and increases flexibility. Don't let fear or uncertainty discourage you from giving it a try. Knowing how to prepare and what to expect at your first class will ease your mind and increase the enjoyment of adding something new to your routine.
A welcoming environment
Select a beginner class and take comfort in the accepting and non-judgemental environment. Yoga requires internal mental and physical focus. No one is watching or judging you. Everyone is working to improve their own practice. Leave any self-conscious thoughts behind and enjoy your session.
Activity tailored to your fitness level
Yoga is about easing yourself into poses without stressing the muscles and joints. Poses can be modified to meet your strength and flexibility level, and the benefit of attending a studio class is that the instructor can help you do this. You should feel a small amount of tension as you challenge your flexibility, but this should never be confused with pain. If any pose is too much for you, follow the instructor’s direction to relax in child’s pose or a similar position.
Peace and quiet
Yoga classes provide a break from the radio, televisions, and sounds of cardio machines and clanging dumbbells. Don’t let the silence stress you out. Enjoy the break from conversation and constant noise. While yoga is quiet, remember that smiles, giggles, and even applause are welcome in most classes. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Equipment you will need
Many studios provide yoga mats to first time attendees, but there may be a fee. Considering that yoga mats cost about $15, having one of your own is worth the investment. If you don’t turn out to be a long-term yoga fan, they can be used for all kinds of floor exercises at home. You might also want to take along a bottle of water and a hand towel to wipe your face or to use as extra support under your knees.
Dress for comfort and movement
Baggy clothes aren’t ideal for yoga because they slide, shift and get in the way. Wear the most form fitting and flexible clothing you feel comfortable in whether it is a tee, tank, shorts, or pants. You will heat up quickly so if you start with long sleeves wear a layer underneath so you can remove the outer layer once you warm up. No socks are needed as they will prevent your feet from gripping the mat. Wear slip-on shoes that are easy to remove.
Up close and personal
Classes can get crowded so be prepared to line up next to your fellow classmate. If this makes you uncomfortable, choose a class that has a cap on attendance or one provided at a less popular time. Also, expect the instructor to touch you and help move your body into the proper position. Always speak up if you are uncomfortable or if they are asking you to reach beyond your limits of flexibility. If an instructor does correct your form, resist the urge to feel criticized. You are not being judged. He or she is helping you to practice safely.
No pressure to participate
Don’t let common yoga practices like chants and audible heavy breathing surprise you. It can take some getting used to when you are new to yoga. You shouldn’t feel pressured to participate, but consider stepping out of your comfort zone and join in. If you decide it’s not a good fit for you, simply perform the pose quietly.
Living a fit lifestyle doesn't have to take a lot of time. Small actions here and there throughout the day add up to big results. Here are a few healthy changes you can make in minutes.
Do a wall sit or plank instead of browsing your social media account
Time: 1 minute
The day is filled with short one minute segments that allow you to squeeze in simple exercises like the plank or wall sit that will tone your core and strengthen your lower body. The next time you are put on hold during a call or wait for a webinar to start, get yourself into position and hold for 60 seconds.
Take a stress break instead of tackling the next issue
Time: 5 minutes
Taking short breaks to ease stress throughout the day can reduce your blood pressure and the urge for emotional eating. Sit at your desk, clear your mind and breath deeply, or step outside for a five minute walk. Give your mind the chance to escape from what is causing you stress and you can return to it refreshed with new ideas for problem solving.
Prep your lunch instead of spending the time sitting at the drive-thru
Time: 15 minutes
It takes only 15 minutes in the evening to pack a healthy lunch for the next day. It will save you money and improve your nutrition. By having food ready to eat, you can also use the rest of your lunch hour for a short walk or stretching session. Throw together a salad, make a wrap or divide and package leftovers to reheat.
Exercise instead of watching television
Time: 20 minutes
It only takes 20 minutes of exercise three to seven days a week to stay healthy. The key is to pick up the intensity to get the heart rate elevated, build muscle, and burn calories. Try high-intensity circuit training (HICT) or create your own circuit that challenges you, but that is also a good match for your fitness level.
Cook dinner instead of waiting to be seated and served at a restaurant
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night helps control spikes in stress hormones and the food cravings that result. Adequate sleep will also help you feel more rested and alert so that you will be ready for tomorrow’s challenging day while working towards maintaining a healthy weight. (See Sleep, Stress and Weight Loss.)
Entertaining doesn’t have to result in unhealthy eating. You can dress up simple, healthy foods to leave a positive impression on your guests. The orange and kiwi in this salad give you a double dose of vitamin C and a boost of fiber. It makes a nice addition to a weekend brunch or it can serve as a nutritious dessert.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
3 navel oranges, peeled and sliced
3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
6 tbsp low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp honey
6 to 8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Divide the sliced oranges into six equal portions. Do the same with the kiwi fruit.
For each serving plate, alternate slices of orange and kiwi to create a stacked salad.
In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey, and mint. Spoon about one tablespoon of the sweetened yogurt over each salad before serving.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 80; Total Fat 0.6 g; Saturated Fat 0.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 6 mg; Carbohydrate 18.2 g; Fiber 2.5 g; Sugar 14.4 g; Protein 2.6 g