The Jakarta Post
Chocolate chip cookies on cutting board (Shutterstock/Africa Studio)
There are days when hunger pangs strike at just the wrong time, for instance when we are at work, lunch was only about two hours ago, and dinner is still a long way off. Among possible reasons for the untimely craving is a diet that lacks protein, fat or fiber, as well as high levels of stress or dehydration, writes registered dietician Brianna Elliott in Healthline.
Those mid-afternoon hunger pangs at work might be familiar to us all, especially on the more difficult days and when deadlines approach, and many of us respond by taking coffee, cookies, cakes, or in Jakarta’s case, es kopi susu (iced milk coffee with palm sugar) paired with a donat kampung (donut with icing sugar) obtained easily using a food-delivery app.
The BBC explains that all this sugary intake produces a quick boost of energy, which can elevate the mood temporarily. The culprit behind the “need” for sugary intake is a variety of hormones. Serotonin makes you happy after eating. Meanwhile, the stress hormone cortisol triggers a craving for food that gives you a fast release of energy, according to the BBC.
Unfortunately, giving in to stress-driven hunger and hormones could be detrimental to your overall fitness goal.
Nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot tells Vogue that if we start the day with proper nutrition, we will not crave sugar. She therefore recommends always eating breakfast that includes a piece of fruit and yogurt.
Lunch, however, is the most important meal, Tanya suggests, because it determines how our afternoons will play out.
“A lunch that combines fiber and protein will keep you full and happy all afternoon,” she told Vogue. Among the menu items recommended are mixed green salad, broccoli and a choice of protein such as salmon, chicken or tofu. Good fat, such as that in the form of one or two slices of avocado, also slows down digestion and is therefore recommended to help the stomach stay full longer.
As mentioned above dehydration is also a cause of untimely hunger, so it is wise to drink plenty of water between meals. Livestrong says that when we do not drink enough water, our body receives mixed signals on hunger. In other words, dehydration makes us believe that we need to eat while what is really needed is liquid intake.
Zuckerbrot also suggests eschewing chewing gum.
“Contrary to popular belief, chewing sugar-free gum actually increases hunger, as it causes your body to produce insulin, encouraging you to eat carbs and crave sugar,” she said.
If you really have to give in to hunger between meal times, Zuckerbrot recommends the likes of apple with almond butter or high-fiber crackers with plant-based dipping. They are good combinations of fiber and protein. (mut)