Why Am I So Hungry Today?

get-attachment.aspx-30Why do we overeat? We have all been guilty of this at some point. Either we are mindlessly munching on a bag of pretzels or popcorn during a television marathon or eating a second helping of a meal when the first one was enough. Besides boredom, why else are we reaching for a snack when we should feel full? Some of it is pure habit and other triggers have to do with our body’s signals.

1)  Lack of rest stimulates fake hunger pangs.  Energy deficiency from lack of sleep makes us want to nourish our bodies. When you are thirsty or dehydrated you tend to overeat. Making sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night can help to avoid the overeating pitfalls.

2) A lot of people misinterpret the feeling of thirst for a feeling of hunger. The symptoms of dehydration (low energy and sleepiness) are very similar to those of being overly hungry. Drinking a glass of water before eating and waiting ten minutes could save you hundreds of calories.

3)  Maybe you just worked out and after a strenuous exercise session, you feel ravenous. Your body needs a specific type of nourishment, not just empty calories. Try eating grilled chicken, other lean meats or a protein shake to replenish your muscles.  Ingesting protein after a strenuous workout will to help your body recover faster and ward off hunger longer.

4)  You’ve had a tough day or tough week. When people are stressed out, they are more likely to turn to high-fat, salty or sugary foods. These comfort foods may taste good going down but this emotional eating is hurting your body. Stress not only causes you to overeat but it makes you eat foods that are bad for you. Find another way to de-stress.

Appetite control is a product of decision making. It’s as simple as that. Before reaching for foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry”, “What am I about to eat? Do I really want to eat this?”

This is a delicious recipe that is easy to make and is very filling. I sometimes skip my morning snack after eating these pancakes for breakfast. I used 2 tablespoons of 1% cottage cheese in this recipe. If you are a vegan, a vegetarian who does not eat dairy or if you follow a Paleo diet or a gluten-free diet- substitute another ingredient for the dairy. I also use 1/2 cup of oatmeal in this recipe. If you follow a Paleo diet or gluten-free diet, then  substitute another ingredient instead.

I understand that there are differing views as to the ingestion of dairy. I understand that there is a school of thought in the medical community who believe that dairy is the devil incarnate. I also understand that there there are medical providers, nutritionists and dietitians who believe that a certain amount of dairy in a diet is acceptable. My blog is not a thesis statement where I am obliged to address the pros and cons of every post. I usually issue a disclaimer that if you follow a Paleo diet then you do not eat this ingredient or substitute that instead. However, it is my opinion that the food posts and recipes which I have posted on my blog are not so inherently controversial- the food debates which can stem from one of my posts are more akin to differences in opinions- it’s not like I said that nicotine is good for you.

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Sweet Potato Pancakes

1/2 cup oatmeal (regular old fashioned, not instant)
1/3 cup egg beaters or 1 extra large egg
2 tablespoons 1% cottage cheese
1 small sweet potato (1/2 of a medium or 1/3 of a large)- cooked and mashed
1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup of water or so- until batter becomes smooth
1 tablespoon nutmeg or cinnamon

To mash the sweet potato- peel and cut it in half, place into a saucepan filled with water, bring to a boil, uncovered. Once boiling, cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then mash the sweet potato and put into blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Drop batter into frying pan sprayed with olive oil spray. Once pancakes start to lightly bubble, gently lift with a spatula and if it looks cooked, turn it over. Enjoy!

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Vegan vs. Vegetarian- What’s All The Fuss?

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about becoming a vegetarian as opposed to living a vegan lifestyle. What is the difference between the two diets? I did some research to find out the differences between the two lifestyle choices.

Vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude. For example, vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry but they typically eat dairy products and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs, lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products and ovo-vegetarians eat eggs as well as dairy products. Vegetarians do not eat products that contain gelatin or other meat-based products.

A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet but vegans do not eat any animal products- including dairy and eggs. People who follow a vegan lifestyle generally do not wear leather and avoid products made from animals such as wool, silk and down.  Popular foods eaten by vegetarians and vegans include kale, grains, nuts, legumes and beans.

vegetarian-food

Whatever diet you follow, it is important to remember to get the proper amount of vitamins, protein and calcium. It is a good idea to consult a doctor and do your own research before eliminating certain food groups from your diet. Also remember that calories still matter and consuming too many- even if they are meatless- is unhealthy.

Whatever diet you follow; vegan, vegetarian, paleo or your own mix of whatever works for you, everyone can benefit from eating slower. I always eat fast and I know it’s a terrible habit. Although I am fully aware of this fact, at times, I am oblivious as to what I am doing when I eat.  I think I fell into this eating fast mode because I am always rushing. I rush to make the train, even though I always leave myself plenty of time,  I run to catch the subway and I even run to the street corners, anxiously trying to make the light. Yet I never feel good after I have eaten my meal fast. It is terrible for digestion and sometimes I eat more food because my brain has not had a chance to realize that my stomach is full.

Studies  have shown that eating slowly can actually curb hunger after a meal. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, focused on normal weight and overweight participants who were instructed to eat two lunches. During one lunch, both groups ate slowly and during the other lunch, both groups ate fast.  Notably, the researchers found that the normal weight participants consumed 88 fewer calories when they were told to eat slowly. While eating slowly, the overweight participants ate 55 fewer calories.  Both the normal weight and the overweight test groups did not feel as hungry one hour after eating slowly than they did after eating quickly.

Eating slower also allows you to properly chew your food, which leads to better digestion. Chewing breaks your food down into smaller particles which makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. An added benefit to slowing down at mealtime is that you may pay more attention to what you are eating. It is better to be in the moment than to be thinking about what you will be doing next. I probably should take my own advice and slow down.

As a healthy snack alternative, try these easy to make, no-bake protein treats.

Tina & Jay’s Chocolate-Chip Coconut Protein Snack

1 cup coconut flakes (I used sweetened coconut flakes-you can use unsweetened flakes with a few drops of stevia for sweetener)
1/2 cup Sunbutter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate whey protein powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

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Blend the coconut flakes in a blender or mini-blender until it reaches a semi-smooth consistency. In a large bowl, place coconut flake mixture and the reminder of the ingredients. Mix all ingredients with your hands and combine into a ball. Chill the ball in the bowl for 30 minutes, uncovered in the refrigerator. Then brake dough into smaller balls and they are ready to eat. Store uneaten treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator.