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eating well

We all have those days when you feel ravenous again by 11am, despite having eaten a full breakfast two hours before. But if those unexplained hunger pangs or cravings are happening on a regular basis, it could be time to re-evaluate your diet and routine.

Hunger levels are not just linked to how much you're eating. They're also linked to the kinds of food you choose, if you're drinking enough water, how you're feeling mentally and countless other things.

Here are a few of the reasons you might be feeling hungry even with a belly full of food.

1. You're dehydrated
Lack of H2O is one of the main causes of unexplained 'hunger' pangs. When we're dehydrated, our hypothalmus – the part of the brain that regulates appetite and thirst – can get confused, meaning our need for water is processed as a need for food. Next time you feel hungry even after eating, try drinking some water and waiting 15-20 minutes. You may find the feeling passes.

2. You’re not sleeping enough
A bad night’s sleep or a complete lack of sleep can leave us feeling foggy and fatigued. As a result our body craves sugar as a quick energy boost. Work towards getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep a night, but if that’s not possible at least have non-sugary snack alternatives on hand for emergencies.

3. You need more protein in your diet
Protein-packed food like lean meat, eggs and whole grains are not just important for energy and muscle repair. They also help to balance blood sugar levels, keep us feeling full and satisfied, and require more energy to digest than fat or carbohydrates. So swap tomorrow morning’s slice of toast for an omelette packed with yummy veg.

4. You need more healthy fats, too
Dieters tend to balk at the very mention of “fat” but some level of fat is needed for a balanced diet. Look for heart-healthy options like avocado, nuts, seeds and oils to improve energy levels and leave you feeling more satisfied after eating.

5. You skip breakfast
Even those of us with the best intentions can end up accidentally skipping breakfast simply because our morning is too busy to even think about stopping. Skipping meals can cause an increase in the production of ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite. In short, if you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to overeat at lunch. Aim to eat something within an hour of waking up, even if that means prepping the night before.

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If you're trying to eat clean for the sake of your health (and waistline), restaurants can seem like a very scary place indeed.

Not only are you not in control of what goes into the food, but you're not in control of portion size, or the bread basket, or how often the wine is refilled… The list goes on.

While it can seem daunting trying to stick to your diet while eating out, as long as you stay focused it's surprisingly easy to enjoy yourself without feeling like your only option is the garden salad. Yes, you will need to avoid the bread basket, but that doesn't mean you need to avoid the restaurant entirely.

Here are a few tips to get you started…

1. Don't skip lunch
If you know you'll be eating a big meal in the evening, it can be tempting to deprive yourself earlier on in the day. But arriving to the restaurant starving is not going to bode well for an evening of restrained eating. So fill up with small meals throughout the day, and have a high fibre snack an hour or two before you eat to ensure you're not dining out on an empty stomach.

2. Don't go straight to the cocktail list
As soon as you sit down, as for some water to be brought to the table and ensure you drink a full glass before ordering anything else to keep you feeling full. If you're planning on having a glass of wine, order it to come with your food so that you're not tempted to have more than one.

3. Know your menu
Most restaurants have their menus available online, so check out what's on offer before you arrive and plan ahead what you'll order. That way you won't be tempted by that cheese-smothered special at the last minute. Watch out for terms like "au gratin," "alfredo" or "battered"… anything that suggests butter, oil or cream, basically,

4. Double up on veg
If your meal comes with a side of chips or something else you'd rather avoid, ask your waiter if it's possible to have extra salad or vegetables instead. Most chefs are happy to oblige.

5. Avoid buffets like the plague
Filling up your plate with a random selection of food and going back for more is a recipe for diet disaster. It might seem like good value, but choose a main course instead and you'll leave feeling much better.

6. Control your portions
The portion on offer depends on the restaurant, but if you're heading somewhere that's known for dishing out huge helpings of food, decide ahead that you're only going to eat two thirds at most, and get the rest to take away. Once the decision is made, it's harder to mindlessly eat the whole plate without noticing.

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You can buy every brightening serum or conditioning treatment on the market, but if you’re ignoring your diet, you might as well forget it! What we eat is key to ensuring our skin looks bright, our teeth are strong and our hair is healthy and shiny.

Make sure you’re eating these six superfoods to give yourself a head start…

1. Blueberries
These tiny little guys are bursting with antioxidants which have anti-aging properties, so aim for a handful a day. Blend them in a smoothie, sprinkle them on your cereal or just eat them solo as a snack.

2. Spinach
Make spinach your go-to leafy green of choice to ensure you’re getting the most out of your salad. Popeye’s fave contains lutein which keeps your eyes bright and healthy, and it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids which keep your skin moisturised and supple.

3. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene which is great for skin. Apparently lycopene is more easily absorbed in cooked form, so go for a tomato-heavy sauce next time you’re having pasta.

4. Walnuts
Smooth skin, healthy hair – walnuts might look kinda ugly but they’ll keep you feeling beautiful! Again, a handful a day is more than enough.

5. Kiwis
Pop a kiwi in your lunchbox for a huge vitamin C boost, ensuring your skin stays firm and wrinkle-free. Vitamin C is also essential for healthy bones and teeth.

6. Dark chocolate
Finally, a healthy dessert! Contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not cause you to get spotty skin. Dark chocolate (60% cocoa or higher) can actually keep skin hydrated and even protect it from sun damage. So eat up!

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Being healthy shouldn’t be a chore. It should just be a part of your lifestyle or a habit that you don’t want to break.

Here are 4 ways to ensure a healthy happy life:

Make exercise part of your life

Don’t plan your exercise regime around your day make it a part of your day. If you go o the gym after work or college put this in your diary. If night times aren’t suitable, simply start your day earlier and workout in the morning.

Be organised

Make sure you are organised. This way when it comes to gym time or run time you won’t have the excuse of “my workout gear is dirty”.

Meal plans

Meal plans are so important for helping you maintain a healthy diet. Buy everything you need at the start of the week. Do batch cooking at the weekend and freeze your food. This way you will always have healthy dinners, even if you are too tired to cook.

Have some fun

Don’t take all the fun out of life. Enjoy a coffee or a tub of ice cream every now and then – maintaining a healthy body should not just be about sacrificing all the good things!

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