Hunger and the desire to eat are two different entities. Hunger is hormonal, but the desire to eat is emotional. We need to eat to replenish our energy stores and maintain our metabolism. Hunger drives us to seek food to survive. Hunger subsides after eating enough food or a regular size meal. The desire to eat, on the other hand, is emotional. We eat when we are sad or happy. We crave ice cream to compensate for certain events in life. We snack on food throughout the day to cope with stress or boredom. We seek “comfort food” rich in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Slowly we develop habits of unhealthy eating that become entrenched in our daily life. Habits become second nature and very soon we become victims of a highly processed diet rich in sugar, salt and fat.
In today’s environment, we consume more than what we really need because the desire to eat has trumped the natural feeling of hunger. We no longer listen to our bodies to know when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. At Houston weight loss surgery center, we spend lot of time educating our patients on “mindful” eating habits:
- Have 3 meals a day. Do not skip breakfast. In fact let breakfast be the most important meal of the day. Avoid grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day. Avoid eating while driving or watching TV. Give yourself time to enjoy a meal and listen to your body, as you are getting full. Do not overeat. Instead stop eating shortly before you feel you are full.
- Avoid SUGAR. Sugar is the enemy of weight loss. Sugar increases your appetite and decreases your metabolism. Sugar will ruin any weight loss attempts and significantly contributes to weight regain after bariatric surgery.
- Snacks: The purpose of a snack is to simply hold you over to your next meal. Do not consume calorie rich snacks like potato chips and candy bars. Rather choose fruits and vegetables for snacking. You may use nuts from time to time but remember nuts are rich in fat and calories. Do not consume more than 100 calories per snack.
- Craving certain food items can wreck havoc on your weight. We usually crave high fat high sugar food that adds hundreds of calories per day. Here are some healthy alternatives:
Veggie sticks, such as celery, carrots, red bell peppers and fennel, are water rich and will help to suppress your appetite while satisfying your craving for crunchy.
Oatmeal can be a great high-fiber, snack any time of day— it’s not just for breakfast. Low fat, sugar free yogurt is another option.
Working a little protein into your snacks is a great way to fuel your day and keep unhealthy cravings at bay. Keep a few hard-boiled eggs in the fridge at home or at work. When you pack your lunch, add a couple of pieces of sliced turkey rolled in lettuce for midday snacking. Low-fat cheese sticks and cottage cheese are also good.
Fresh berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, all contain fiber and an abundance of natural sweetness.
Craving Fried Foods
Oven-baked fried chicken strips can be a surprisingly good alternative to greasy wings. Substitute baked sweet potato fries, a sweet and crunchy snack, for traditional french fries.
Craving Ice Cream
Create your own low-fat, creamy alternative to ice cream. Try frozen peaches blended with coconut milk and chilled in the freezer. Frozen strawberries blended with ice, low-fat yogurt and a banana makes a great smoothie.