Is comfort food calling your name this winter?
“The desire to eat can be caused by numerous factors other than actual hunger,” said Sarah Schmidt, a registered dietitian at Augusta University Health.
Here are eight common reasons cravings kick in and what you can do about them:
- You’re thirsty. Mild dehydration may feel the same as hunger. Try increasing your water intake (provided your fluid intake isn’t limited for medical reasons).
- You’re tired. Poor sleep or too little sleep can leave you searching for energy. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
- You’re eating too many refined carbs. Simple carbs, such as those in foods made from white flour, are typically low in fiber and may leave you hungry (such as the 400-calorie bagel that leaves you ravenous by 10 a.m.). When you crave carbs, go for the high-fiber variety – such as oatmeal, berries or beans.
- You’re stressed. Stress hormones can contribute to feelings of hunger. Try stress management techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
- You’re bored. Instead of snacking, take a walk, watch a movie, play with your pet or read a good book.
- You’re drinking too much alcohol. Not only can alcohol stimulate hunger, it can also make you dehydrated. Limit alcoholic beverages to one a day for women or two for men.
- You need more protein or fat. Protein and fat can both help you feel satisfied, especially protein. Include sources of lean protein (think legumes, chicken or fish) and healthy fats (think avocados, nuts or olive oil) in your meals and snacks. Just be careful to watch your portion sizes — even healthy fats are high in calories.
- You’re depriving yourself. Deprivation will only serve to increase your cravings for treats. Let yourself enjoy them occasionally and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
Now hiring a diet detective
A dietitian can give you more tips to curb those cravings and craft an eating plan that works for you. Ask your primary care physician if meeting with a dietitian is the next step for you. Call 706-721-4588 to make an appointment with one of our family medicine physicians.