5 ways to keep your diet from making you hangry
No one wants to go around all day feeling hungry and deprived. But that’s exactly what some dieters do, and it generally has the expected effect on their mood: they get “hangry” — that lethal combination of hunger and anger.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips from a dietitian and a nurse that can help you lose the frown as well as the weight:
- Don’t skip breakfast. “Eating a healthy breakfast allows you to start the day ‘breaking the fast’ to promote steady glucose levels and provide the energy you need,” says Jodi Upchurch, a registered dietitian at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill. “Choose a healthy breakfast that will benefit your overall diet. Including fruit, lean protein, and/or whole grains will provide a good start to your day.”
- Eat at home more. Upchurch notes that research from the University of Illinois found meals eaten in restaurants are usually significantly higher in total calories and hydrogenated fats, but lower in percentage of calories from protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber – things that keep you fuller longer — when compared to meals eaten at home. Beka Lavicka, an Advocate Nurse who works with heart failure patients at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., agrees. “If you are on a specialty diet, it is almost always easier to eat at home,” she says. “Cooking at home allows you to have more control over your meal and what goes in to preparing it. It also allows you to make substitutions, such as low-sodium or low-fat in order to make the food better for you.”
- Come up with creative substitutes. That nagging craving for carbs can make anyone hangry. “Substitute cauliflower for starchy foods such as potatoes or rice to save calories and provide additional fiber to keep you full longer,” Upchurch says. “Puree cooked cauliflower and mix it with skim milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and garlic to make a substitute for mashed potatoes to save approximately 55 calories per ½ cup.” You can also purchase “riced” cauliflower in the frozen section of your grocery store to use as a substitute for traditional rice, she adds. But remember that starchy foods provide carbohydrates, an important source of energy for the body. “There is no need to eliminate these foods,” Upchurch says. “Choose whole grains whenever possible and keep portions modest.”
- Add some spice to your day. Spicy food, that is. “Studies have shown that a spicy meal, such as a bowl of chili, can provide a slight rise in metabolism,” Upchurch says. “You would likely have to eat a lot of capsaicin, the substance that provides the heat to spicy foods, to have an overall effect on your weight. However, this temporary boost in metabolic rate may help to suppress your desire to eat, if only for a short time.” Eating spicy foods also slows your eating down, giving your brain more time to catch up with your stomach to tell you you’re full.
- Trick yourself into portion control. Use smaller plates for your meals – you’ll fit less on them, but it will still have that “full plate” look. Large tables can help, too. “Weight is determined by calories in vs. calories out,” says Upchurch. “Reducing portions will help to regulate the number of calories you are consuming.”
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