Sometimes it seems that no matter how much you eat, you’re still hungry.
After all that snacking in between meals, your stomach still rumbles. How is that possible?
Well as it turns out, there may be food in your diet that is actually causing this ever-lasting hunger.
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“Almost all of us eat multiple times a day and the quantity and qualities of what we take in has a huge role to play in determining how hungry or full we feel,” registered dietitian Andy De Santis says. “Obviously there are contextual and personal factors which play a role – i.e. exercise, genetics, your own tendencies, etc. – but what you put into your body obviously represents the most relevant variable for most people.”
While there is no magic way to tell which components in food cause this feeling of a bottomless pit, there is some evidence out there which suggests sugar and salt may play a role, De Santis says.
“Hunger and satisfaction are simplistic concepts but are actually quite complex processes in the human body that involve multiple hormones sending messages to your brain,” he explains. “I believe that the more pertinent way to understand this topic is to think of foods that make you full and foods that don’t.”
According to De Santis, foods that often leave you unsatisfied will lack or have very little fibre and protein.
This includes candy, milk chocolate, pop, ice cream, white rice, white bread and fries, for example.
And it’s those two components – fibre and protein – that will help promote satiety, De Santis says.
“This is part of the reason you might see people on a ‘diet’ eating so many veggies and chicken breast,” he says. “The combination of protein and fibre can keep you satisfied with only a modest caloric intake.”
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Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas which contain both fibre and protein are a great choice, De Santis suggests, as well as nuts and seeds.
Soy milk, he adds, is one of the few commonly available beverages that contains both protein and fibre.
Basically, any food that is individually high in either of those components – like fruits, vegetables and unprocessed meat and dairy and dairy alternatives – are the way to go, De Santis says.
“If you are truly hungry, and you opt for foods that are not good at keeping you full, you can probably expect to not feel satisfied after eating them,” he says. “Adding more satiating foods into the mix, even if it is in combination with this other favourite food, could at least help you feel more full and satisfied.”