Have you ever wondered why our plans to opt healthy eating and efforts to stop mindless snacking don’t last long? We get sucked in by the claims of health and wellness industry offering us perfect body and health.
It is tough to overlook pictures of models sitting smugly next to a pile of vegetables advertising the fat-free, less-carbs tempting us to right away start whatever popular diet plan is on buzz.
Nevertheless, within a month or so we get back to munching anything and everything our heart yearns for.
What’s worst is the mindless snacking during our stressful days or when bored during long hours of journey! Here is an easy-to-follow guide that will help you in your understanding and implementation of healthy eating and stopping mindless snacking.
Why our resolve for adapting healthy eating patterns weakens so easily?
When stuck at work, having deadlines to meet or heavy workload in either case we tend to look for distractions to help us relieve from the mounting stress. Subconsciously we reach out for food to distract us.
Crispy, crunchy, melts in mouth, burst of flavors, dripping cheese, dripping fudge etc…Words fall short to describe our comfort foods. On top of that, those highly appealing commercials by fast food joints add up to our cravings.
We indulge in mindless snacking yet the quantity of subsequent meal remains the same. Technically you are supposed to eat less as you already had “food high in sugars and high in fat”.
Therefore, to get a plausible explanation take a step back and let’s analyze the two important inter-related factors playing a major role in our resolve for healthy eating.
- Satiety 2) Energy density of foods
Satiety- the key to your self-control for stopping mindless snacking:
Satiety is the feeling of fullness after having a meal that helps you from stop eating further. It does appear as something so trivial but it has a lot of science related to hormones, type of food, sensory perceptions all working together behind the scenes.
Yes, you read it right, I mentioned hormones and the best part is that you can balance them with simple inconsequential efforts that can help you adapt to healthy eating routine.
Leptin, the satiety hormone has been the most widely researched. Though there is another equally touted hormone Ghrelin, researchers often dismiss it as not as important as it was originally assumed to be.
What role leptin – (the satiety hormone) has in our diet plans?
Fat cells in our body release the hormone leptin. This hormone in turn controls body fat mass, food intake and makes our body responsive to insulin.
Most importantly, It cuts the production of fat from the glucose stores of our body.
How important is balance of satiety hormones for adapting healthy eating?
Leptin works by sending signals to brain about satiety. Post meal leptin level increases, giving you a feeling of fullness. These cues stop you from over-eating.
However, in situations where we unmindfully gain weight due to negligence or work stress, the level of leptin remains low, which indicates our mind-gut connection, has gone wary.
This gives us false cues of hunger making us eat more than our usual quantities.
On the other side surprisingly, in obesity levels of leptin were found to be high suggesting the development of insensitivity to leptin.
Is there a way to prevent imbalances of satiety hormones to promote healthy eating?
Yes, what you eat itself can balance these hormones. A little focus on foods that positively influence the prompt send to your brain by your gut can in fact stop you from reaching out to that chips packet lying on your desk.
Your morning meal plan plays a huge role in your resolve for healthy eating:
If you regularly workout or at least do light cardio such as walking, jogging or aerobic exercises then what you eat before or after your workout regime makes a lot of difference:
For those who do intense workout having easy to digest carbohydrates such as white bread, 1 or 2 bananas will be helpful. Most people opt high protein and high fat diet but body needs easy to digest carbohydrates before workout.
For light cardio you can do it on empty stomach after having a glass full of water. In either case being hydrated is important.
Tip of the day
What we eat in our breakfast controls the cravings for unhealthy options throughout the day. Breakfast high in proteins and fibre increases satiety and controls the false hunger signals. It also effectively aids in weight management.
Fibre in your breakfast:
When we talk about fibre invariably we think of oats. If you take oats/oatmeal in your breakfast you are on a right path towards your goal for healthy eating.
Fibre containing foods increases body’s sensitivity to the hormone leptin. With this, in your 11a.m office breaks, you will no longer pine for donuts.
If you belong to my category who detests oats for breakfast, well I found even tastier options to increase fibre in breakfast; add any one or more of these to your breakfast: Apples, banana, oranges, strawberries, figs, guava, raisins, almonds, pistachio nuts and whole wheat bread.
Fruit or fruit juices for breakfast?
People duped by the “detox by juicing” claptrap habitually pick the fruit juices marketed as natural and healthy for breakfast as well as during work hours if they plan on skipping meals.
“I haven’t seen any research or science paper to support that cleansing is happening from juicing,” says nutritionist Jennifer Barr, RD, of Wilmington, DE
Commercially sold fruit juices have added sugars in addition to the natural fruit sugars. Additionally, if you choose fruit juices of bitter fruits such as cranberry then you are most likely to consume more than necessary added sugars.
“Skip fruit juices and eat whole fruit itself” says Colette Heimowitz , MS, Director of Education and Research for Atkins Health and Medical Information Services.
Eating whole fruit rather than juicing will provide not only fibre but also the natural sugars in pure form.
Yay! We can skip going extra lengths for making juices early in the morning. You may say pureed juices or smoothies contain fibre.
Yes, but when studies were conducted on assessing satiety they found that eating whole fruit rather than smoothies or juices in breakfast will help in reducing over consumption of meals during lunch time or subsequent meals.
For staying hydrated all day long- Water is your best friend.
Nonetheless, if you love smoothies you can make your own and carry in stainless steel container. By carrying your own homemade smoothies you can be saved from picking out satiety decreasing high-calorie drinks.
My personal favorites are those posted by fellow blogger Wendy in her blog aroundmyfamilytable.
I have linked to the recipe that has my favorite coconut water as the main ingredient:
Protein diet in breakfast can stop you from unwanted snacking during work hours:
Proteins when digested release those nutrients aka amino acids that signal the brain to not only give the feeling of satisfaction but also promote utilization of fat reserves of our body.
Whey- the highly nutritious protein effective in weight management and in satiety:
Whey was found to decrease triglycerides, the high amounts of which in blood pose a risk factor for heart diseases. It was also found to control the spike in levels of glucose post meal in type-2 diabetes patients.
Study published in British Journal of Nutrition reported that breakfast containing whey protein drink or a carbohydrate drink can help in improving performance in mental tasks at work.
For getting benefits of whey you can make your own whey protein at home. Or else having the following can provide you proteins additionally with the necessary fats:
- In most of the asian families we make our own yogurt. By doing so we can avoid consuming extra added sugar found in commercially sold flavored yogurts.
- Every 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds has 2.5gms of protein and 5gms of fibre. Check the link below to know the recipe of Berries and Chia seeds parfait by my favorite food blogger shanazrafiq. Berries & Chia Seeds Parfait
Every 100 ml of Coconut water has 4% carbohydrate. This can be the best healthy carbohydrate drink to help you perform better at work. You must surely check the facts on drinking this nature’s fluid of life.
Let’s get real for devising healthy meal plan:
You must have heard enough of going fat-free or low fat diets and low carb diets.
Fact remains you need fats more specifically healthy fats and carbohydrates as much as you need proteins and fibre.
Fat in food stimulates appetite; it makes food tastier and palatable. It provides the creamy texture to salads and recipes that triggers the want to eat. Add controlled amounts of healthy cheeses such as mozzarella, ricotta and gouda type cheeses.
Lean meat, cheeses and fat from fermented dairy must be part of our healthy meal plans. Including dairy in meal plan on daily basis or on alternative days provides a balanced nutritious diet. In my post Reasons why fat in dairy is good for you , I have tried my best to clear out common misconceptions on dairy.
The next part covering energy density of foods (Calories) will be posted within few days. The focus of the next part will be on the good and the bad snacking. How your sleeping habits affect your satiety and food cravings.
To receive email notification for the same please do sign up below.