7 Meal Hacks To Maintain a Healthy Weight
It can be a challenge to eat healthy and stick to a strict eating plan, especially when you are craving some variety. Fighting those urges to have a cookie or bag of chips in between meals makes things even more difficult. Whether your goal is to make it through the afternoon without eating more than you should, or trying to keep your energy levels up when you have no time for a quick bite, it is essential that you eat nutritious, well-balanced meals over the course of the day so that you feel satisfied from morning through bedtime.
So what is the key to keeping your hunger at bay? Here are seven meal hacks that will allow you to not only stay full, but will ensure that you aren’t depriving yourself of all the things your body needs.
Eat More Fiber
Here’s a crazy stat: Around 95% of adults and children don’t consume the minimum daily recommended amount of fiber. Be part of that other 5% by incorporating fiber into every meal and snack. The body digests fiber more slowly than other nutrients, making you feel full. At the same time, when the fiber enters the bloodstream and then to the brain, signals are sent telling us we don’t need to eat anything more.
Drink more water
There is more to staying full than simply getting enough food; you also need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Aside from keeping you hydrated, water is also important for convincing your brain that you’re full. How? By activating the stretch receptors in the stomach. Not only does this send signals that you don’t need any food, it tells the body not to release hunger hormones. But when we suggest water, we really mean it. Downing sugary sodas and even beverages with artificial sweeteners have the unwanted effect of making us feel even hungrier later in the day.
Avoid simple, highly processed carbs
Just as you need to add more fiber in your diet, you also need to avoid certain nutrients, particularly simple carbohydrates like the kind found in white pasta, bread, and fried foods. Simple carbs are quickly processed by the body, making you feel hungry again almost right away. Instead, opt for whole grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa as they contain complex carbohydrates that digest far more slowly. Pair these up with grilled fish or chicken and a leafy salad for a perfectly balanced meal.
Eat raw fruits and vegetables
One of the best ways to stay full is to get a good serving of crunchy vegetables and fruits. It isn’t just that they contain a great deal of fiber — although they do — the crunchy texture of carrots, apples, cucumbers and the like take time to chew, and it is a fact that the more slowly we eat our food, the fuller we ultimately feel versus quickly consuming food before we receive signals from our brain to stop. Furthermore, these foods are low in calories, have a high water content, and digest slowly thanks to all that fiber.
Add more protein to your meals
Although you need to eat vegetables and fruits everyday, you also need a good dose of protein in order to sustain that full, satisfying feeling for hours. A great strategy — especially when you’re eating the “good” kind of carbs, is to pair it up with proteins since it will cause both of these nutrients to digest more slowly. For breakfast, have a pair of scrambled eggs with a slice of whole grain toast, sliced apples, and a glass of milk. For lunch, have some baked salmon with wild rice. For dinner, prepare some lean roast beef with carrots and sweet potatoes.
Balance your blood sugar
Your blood sugar operates much like a rollercoaster; it raises up and falls down throughout the day. When it is up, you experience a crash, start to develop cravings, and have a difficult time concentrating. But when you eat a meal containing micronutrients, complex carbs, protein, and heart-healthy fats, it keeps your blood sugar in complete balance. If you start feeling this between breakfast and lunch, grab yourself a handful of almonds and you’ll be all set!
Focus on Healthy Fats
For the longest time, we were told to avoid fat altogether. However, in the past 2 decades or so, more research has found that the key is to focus on healthy, unsaturated fats while avoiding the artery clogging saturated and trans fats. We need fat for both the energy it provides and its ability to make us feel full and therefore eat less throughout the day. Salmon, avocado, peanut butter, and olive oil provide fat that protects the heart and keeps you satisfied. Sprinkle some flax or chia seeds onto a salad to boost the quality fat content.