By Ashley Wilhoite, BSN, RN, Wellness Director
Do you like to eat alone? I sure do. Yes, I enjoy eating with friends and loved ones, too…but one of my favorite things to do is pick a unique restaurant that I’ve never been to and savor a delicious meal on my own. I enjoy this so much that I try to do it weekly. Some people think I’m a little weird, but that’s completely fine with me. At the end of the day, my values are much more important than others’ opinions of me.
I’ve been a nurse for over 15 years, and I am used to eating in a hurry. In fact, there were quite a few meals during my nursing shifts that consisted of packaged chicken broth mixed with hot water. Yuck! Now that I have very active children, my schedule typically doesn’t involve actually sitting down and enjoying a meal unless I make time to do that. Eating is meant to be enjoyed and should not be a constant hurried task.
Over the years, I’ve found that I usually have more cravings when I don’t receive enjoyment and nutrient density from my meals. Those out-of-the-blue cravings often lead to the “hangry” sensation no one enjoys. Below are just a few tips on how to combat those hangry cravings and keep you (and your tummy) in a better mood!
Practice mindful eating.
Mindful eating helps you develop awareness of your eating habits, feelings, and deprivation, which can cause those hangry feelings. Practicing mindful eating teaches you to distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger and helps you choose your response instead of acting impulsively. This involves being present while eating, slowing down, and chewing every bite thoroughly.
Hydrate your body.
Drinking water before meals may reduce unhealthy cravings, as well as help with weight loss.
Increase your protein intake.
Eating more protein can help satisfy your appetite and prevent you from overeating. It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied longer.
Distance yourself from the craving.
When you get a strong craving, try to distance yourself from it. I have a horrible issue with icing. I can’t eat just a little bit of it. If there are cupcakes lying around, I can’t control my desire to eat the icing off the top. Instead of giving in, I make sure to move the cupcakes out of sight and occupy myself with something else.
Avoid getting extremely hungry.
Refraining from eating all day and then overindulging in the evenings are far from being the right way of living a healthier lifestyle. Going all day without proper nutrition can cause overwhelming sensations of wanting to overeat. By being prepared and avoiding long periods of hunger, you should be able to prevent those ravenous cravings from showing up later. Hunger and a lack of critical nutrients can cause specific cravings for unhealthy options.
To sum it up:
By practicing these simple tips and staying cognizant of your eating habits, you can successfully stave off that “hangry” beast and remain on a path of good health and wellness. So take a seat and enjoy that delicious, healthy meal…with company or without!