Dietary choices and behaviours for promoting satiety, controlling cravings and weight management.
Dear Wellness Seeker,
Do you often find yourself finishing a snack or a meal without noticing, wondering where it’s gone and why you are still hungry? Are you often distracted during mealtimes, craving poor food choices and not feeling satisfied?
An increasing body of research demonstrates that our level of concentration and awareness of our food during mealtimes, the speed at which we eat and chew our food, the timing of our meals and the combination of foods we prepare, interfere with our hunger/ satisfy cues, unhealthful food cravings/ choices and weight management.
Known as mindful eating, this concept involves being truly aware of what is going on in our surroundings, specifically, focusing on the colours, aromas, flavours, and textures of your food, chewing thoroughly and slowly, and eating without the distraction from electronic devices or books and sitting down at a table whilst eating, not standing, or in bed, or ‘on the move in between running errands or appointments.
The incorporation of mindful eating has beneficial effects on digestion as this process involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, in which the brain requires at least 20 minutes for the fullness hormone leptin to be released and for the brain register satiety. This means, that by eating quickly may lead us to overeat as the fullness cue to the brain is delayed. So before grabbing a second helping of food, wait a few minutes, try to ask yourself ‘Am I still hungry?’
If so, plate a small serving and really take your time to chew the food thoroughly.
It is important to note, however, that mindful eating alone is not enough, the complexity and the nutrient value of the food prepared plays an important in controlling unnecessary snacking during the day, total calorie consumption, sugar and salty snack cravings, and portion size are helping weight management. To best control satiety, and meet the energy and nutrient demands of the body, it is important to plan and prepare meals ahead of time. It is most important that breakfast and lunch are well balanced, consisting of protein (lean proteins, eggs, dairy, vegan alternatives such as tofu, seitan, or tempeh) with the addition of whole grain carbohydrates (quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, legumes, wild rice, whole grain bread) and a variety of vegetables.
It is beneficial to limit snacking, however, if you wish to snack choose high-fibre high protein options such as nuts, hummus and vegetable sticks, Greek yoghurt, boiled egg, and dark chocolate as they will promote satiety. Whereas highly processed foods often high in fats and sugars will keep us satisfied for a small period until we crave them again and overconsume the recommended intake. It is best to enjoy such foods after the main meal as this will avoid overconsuming.
Not only is the food implemented on our plate important for controlling satiety, but so is the times we eat our main meals. It is important to have a structure in our day that is routine. To consume meals at similar times every 3-4 hours apart and to avoid sporadic eating. This is because the levels of the appetite hormone Ghrelin start to increase 3-4 hours after eating. By eating 3 meals per day or two meals per day (if intermittent fasting, but calorie, macronutrient and micronutrient requirements are met during the eating window) will keep ghrelin and leptin levels stable. During crash dieting or severe calorie restriction, ghrelin levels increase, and poor food choices and cravings will increase. As the body requires immediate sources of energy, cravings for easily accessible high-fat, high-sugar foods will be enhanced.
Overall, by being more carefully involved, and organised in the preparation and awareness of your meal all the above can be achieved. Try not to get overwhelmed with meal preparation, by organising a weekly shopping list for easy balanced recipes is sufficient. The key is to be consistent as this will ensure these small changes become long-term habits that are sustainable and a part of your daily lifestyle.
To your Best Life,
Felicia Gaitanos MSc
Your Chenot Wellness Team