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Turning off the hunger alarm

  • Monterey County Herald
  • Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 12 a.m.

Much like the small, persistent chirp of a fire alarm can alert us to its low battery, our bodies can wake us to certain signals as well. Some are necessary, and some can be annoying. Like when we think we’re hungry, but we really don’t need to eat. If only we could change the batteries so our hunger alarms would not chirp incessantly. Here are some proven strategies from a recent article in the newsletter, Environmental Nutrition:

• Eat solid foods over beverages. Form really affects how a food turns hunger signals off or on, even when calories remain the same, say researchers. A whole apple, for example, turns off hunger cues better than applesauce or apple juice. And don’t trust those chirps that urge you to pack in more food even when you’ve gulped down several hundred calories in a soda or other high-calorie drink. Research has shown that the body becomes confused and may continue to sound the hunger alarm when we drink our calories instead of eating whole foods.

• Begin meals with foods that take up more room and less calories. Salad or vegetable-based soup, for example. When we fill our tummies with high volume, low calorie foods, guess what? Our hunger alarm stops chirping, making it easier for us to eat sensibly. Careful though. To lose weight, we need to eat these lower calorie choices in place of – not in addition to – higher calorie fare.

• Eat more fiber-rich foods. Recent studies confirm that higher fiber diets help turn off hunger signals and help us to eat less when we need to lose weight.

• Get your protein. It may be the most helpful of all the nutrients for turning off hunger signals, say experts. Besides including protein-rich foods with meals – lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and low fat dairy – plant some protein into snacks to prevent between meal hunger chirps.

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