Do you ever have those days when your stomach feels like a bottomless pit? The next meal feels like an eternity away and you’ve got a serious case of the “Hangries”.
It’s natural for our appetite to fluctuate a little, depending on exercise, stress and hormones. But some foods will artificially amplify your appetite, driving you to distraction and blowing a balanced day of eating out the window!
Find out what 6 foods will rev up those hunger pangs, and some handy alternatives to eat instead!
1. White Toast
It’s fluffy. It’s slightly sweet and it’s oh-so-delicious. Yet this common breakfast choice has some deceptive qualities that are fully programmed to bring on an appetite attack!
Like any refined carbohydrate, white bread is made from a flour that is devoid of its bran and fiber content. This means that our body can digest the leftover starch very quickly, and convert it into sugar.
The result? Blood sugar levels spike and we get a massive dump of insulin into the bloodstream. Then blood sugar levels plummet and we’re left wondering why we feel like devouring the kitchen.
Throw in some butter (which sends happy, opiate-like signals to the brain) plus a sweet spread, and you don’t have a recipe for breakfast… You have a recipe for hunger!
Choose Instead: Toasted multigrain spelt, sourdough, gluten-free or sprouted essene bread. Choose a spread that is low in sugar, such a nut butter, pure peanut butter, tahini, avocado or chia jam.
In terms of top foods that are hardwired to make us eat more, and MORE, then still want more later - fries are certainly up there!
The hunger-driving effects of fries are twofold. Firstly, fries are totally oozing with fat and smothered in salt; two components that light up our brains with pleasure signals and stimulate our appetite.
Fries are also undeniably delicious. This is also an important factor to consider when it comes to hunger, as humans don’t just eat for physiological reasons. We eat because it tastes good too!
Choose Instead: A whole-baked jacket potato, sweet potato fries, homemade zucchini chips or even a healthified potato salad.
3: Beer, wine and spirits… Or anything alcoholic!
We’re often told that the occasional glass of red is good for your health. Rich in heart-healthy antioxidants and polyphenols, there’s a good argument in favor of enjoying red wine in moderation.
On the flip side, alcohol - of any kind - is a known appetite stimulant and will make most people eat more. Plus, it relaxes you and lower your inhibitions around food - which is probably not so good if you have heart disease.
Choose Instead: If you’re going to drink, choose red wine for its antioxidant quality. Stick to one standard glass and drink it slowly throughout your meal. Always aim to have several nights a weeks which are alcohol free.
4: Chinese Fast Food (MSG)
On paper, it would appear that Chinese food has many of the qualities which would usually help us feel full. Many dishes are high in protein, provide a half-decent serve of veggies (depending on where you go) and generally contains rice, which tends to be bulking in the stomach.
Yet inside that delicious plate of sweet and salty deliciousness lurks a very clever little additive which has been engineered with one agenda in mind - to make us eat more.
MSG, monosodium glutamate and E621 all refer to an artificial flavor enhancer that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Research shows that regular intake of MSG may override the satiety centres of the brain and therefore contribute to obesity.
Choose Instead: Chinese restaurants that explicitly don’t use MSG or make your own delicious Chinese dishes at home!
5: Sugary Cereals
Kids’ sugary breakfast cereals may be tastebud-pleasers, yet they are laced with all sorts of hidden nasties that aren’t too pleasing in other ways.
For starters, did you know that the average kids’ cereal is loaded with almost twice the amount of sugar than adult versions? Hello blood sugar mayem!
This sugar also typically comes from high fructose corn syrup, which may interfere with the body’s release of leptin, the ‘fullness hormone’. Therefore, our body doesn’t get the normal signals to stop munching.
Choose Instead: A wholesome granola, oatmeal, porridge or chia pudding. You can also check out these top tips for making a healthy breakfast.
6. The Not-So-Sweet Sweeteners
Even though the label may read ‘diet’, don’t let this clever marketing deceive you.
When our tastebuds detect the sweet flavor of artificial sweeteners, the body prepares for a rush of carbohydrate or sugar… That never comes. Effectively, these sweeteners hijack the brain’s centre that detects sweet foods, yet never follows up with the physical delivery of sweetness.
We’re left hungry, unsatisfied and yearning for a real sweet treat - something to hit the sweet spot that our brain and body expected.
Choose Instead: If you really, genuinely are craving something sweet, opt for something that is naturally sweetened (for example with honey, rice malt syrup, coconut sugar, rapadura or pure maple syrup). Many raw, nut-based vegan desserts are also a better option because they are micronutrient-dense, meaning that you still get a bunch of vitamins and minerals as you indulge.