While you may stick to a diet and fitness plan, chances are you give in to temptation and end up eating that extra packet of chips or raiding the cupboard at night for more junk food. The reason: the hunger pangs just don’t go and make you overeat. However, if you keep cheating like this, your weight loss plans will go for a toss. The solution lies in tweaking your diet to make sure you feel full for longer.
Delnaaz T Chanduwadia, chief dietician at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre says it’s important to eat regular meals at short intervals. “This will prevent overeating at meal times. When one stays hungry for long hours, the body moves into starvation mode. By the time, you reach a meal time, you are ravenous and tend to overeat to the point of fullness,” she explains.
One of the cardinal rules of a good diet is to never skip breakfast. “A normal, healthy individual should start their day with a good breakfast which is a combination of complex carbohydrates like oats, bran, and millet along with protein in the form of lentil, nuts, eggs, poultry or spinach. Proteins contain amino acids which are the last to break down in our bodies and keep us energised for longer. Similarly, fruits and vegetables also curb hunger pangs because fibre adds bulk to the diet,” says nutritionist Anjali Peswani.
An ideal diet plan should include 3 main meals (6 hours apart) and 1 or 2 small meals in a day (3 hours apart), suggest the experts. “However, if you are going to the gym or opting for some sort of workout, then some more meals need to be added to the day,” says Chanduwadia.
And when those hunger pangs do strike, it is wise to always stock or carry healthy options to prevent unhealthy snacking. “Opt for fruits, nuts, dried fruits, cucumber and carrot sticks and Greek yogurt or even buttermilk,” says Peswani. Chanduwadia suggests vegetable smoothies, khakra, puffed millets, sprouts, finger foods with hummus and natural cheese as good snack options.
Another good cheat trick is to drink lots of water, as the body often can’t differentiate between hunger and thirst. “A consumption of at least 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day (depending upon one’s body weight) has shown to curb hunger pangs in some studies. Too much of just plain water has also been related to less electrolytes in the body so one must include liquids like nimbu paani, thin buttermilk, aam panna, sabja paani along with plain water,” says Peswani, adding that including water-rich foods like cucumbers, melons, celery, bottlegourd (dudhi), lemon, kiwi and tangerines or oranges in the diet also help.
Apart from altering the diet, you can also make a conscious choice to avoid stocking junk food in the house. “Most of the times when one is famished, he/she is unable to make a healthy choice. So, if one has stocked unhealthy foods at home…that’s the only choice there is. If you stock healthy options at home, those will be consumed at snack time. Biscuits, khari, namkeen and farsan should be kept off the shelves. Out of site is out of mind,” says Chanduwadia.