Do you often arrive home from work feeling so ravenous you could eat a donkey with the saddle on?!?!
If you do then you might find yourself routinely grabbing snacks before you’ve prepared a proper meal in the evening. This isn’t the worst crime in the world of course but if you’re aiming to gain control of your weight and what you’re eating then pre supper snacking can be a real problem.
I can tell you from my own experience that keeping hunger pangs at bay after a long day at work is not easy. In fact, back in the day when I was office bound I even found myself coming home from a day at the office and rummaging through my fridge without even having taken my coat off!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. At The Body Retreat we believe that balance is the key to keeping hunger in check.
Follow our simple tips below and you will soon find yourself in almost zen like control as you open your front door of an evening. Believe me, you will feel a whole lot better for it!
The Hunger Scale
You may already have read or heard about the Hunger Scale but even if you have then it is worth looking at again because it is a really amazing tool. We use it all the time at Weight Loss Retreats because it really helps provide a focus when we’re trying to take back control of what we’re eating.
The Hunger Scale is all about thinking more precisely about how hungry or full you are whenever you eat. It isn’t a magic solution that works wonders overnight but if you use it for a while you are sure to see some very worthwhile benefits. The scale is easier to use on retreat because there’s more time to focus but, if you find a way to use it in everyday life too, then it can make a massive difference to the way you think about and enjoy food.
As you can see below, the Hunger Scale goes from one, which is where you are so physically faint from hunger you could barely lift a fork to your mouth, through to ten which is feeling so full up that you could be sick in a bucket…(yes it really is that gross).
The Hunger Scale
1. Physcially Faint
4. A Little Hungry
9. Over Faced
10. Sick in a Bucket!
Ideally we want to stay between 4 and 7. When we don’t eat or when we don’t eat well and we allow our blood sugar levels to drop down into the realms of 1,2 and 3, we find ourselves at the mercy of a brain in survival mode.
The Problem with Flagging Blood Sugar
When your blood sugar levels drop low your brain, which always has your very best interest at heart, senses the lack of energy and sends out a very compelling message that it needs high energy sources ASAP. The result is that your brain will literally send you in search of fast acting carbs that can be easily converted to energy.
Now there is great sugar in a carrot, but, here’s the thing, when you are low down the Hunger Scale you make bad choices. You open the fridge door, you see the carrots, you see the hummus you see the natural Greek yoghurt, but no. You need or rather you want starchy CARBS!!! So you close the fridge and turn to the bread bin…
The problem with eating starchy carbs on an empty stomach
As starchy carbs are quickly converted into glucose you start to feel better, but your body is also producing insulin to convert the glucose either into muscles for energy or into your fat stores.
In large amounts insulin prevents fat burning and stores surplus nutrients in the fat cells. After some time (a few hours or less) this may result in a shortage of nutrients in the blood, creating feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet. Usually at that point people eat more. This starts the process all over again and that’s why snacking can be such a problem and why the associated cravings are often so hard to control.
In a recent study at Cornell University, students who consumed starchy carbs before or at the very start of a meal ate 47% more calories in their meals than those who ate vegetables or salad.
If this all sounds a little too familiar then you will be pleased to know that there are some very simple steps you can take to break this vicious cycle.
The Body Retreat’s Top Tips for Avoiding Pre Supper Snacking
Avoid having a glass of wine while cooking.
There is no need to come over all Keith Floyd in the midweek kitchen. Not only is the sugar in the wine converted in exactly the same way as the sugar in the starchy carbs but on an empty stomach you may find yourselves being a little too enthusiastic in tasting the meal as you prepare. Ever found yourselves saying…. “Mmm, nice” and then having another couple of spoonfuls? Leave the vino until you are at the table eating.
Drink a glass of warm water and lemon juice instead of wine.
Lemon juice is traditionally understood to support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid digestion. This is why in ayruvedic or yogic traditions it is drunk upon waking. But drinking a glass while you are preparing your meal can also help to take the sting out of your appetite.
Eat a good lunch.
Having a high carb lunch will leave you feeling empty by supper time (see our blog on why sandwiches may damage your waistline).
Having a mid-afternoon snack is a MUST!!
Back to our Hunger Scale. If you allow your blood sugar levels to drop too low then you will put yourself into the snacking danger zone. Ideally you should aim to have a small protein based snack midway between lunch and supper. So if you lunch at 1pm and have supper at around 7.30pm then having a snack around 4.00pm will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
The thing to remember is that no one plan suits everybody, so you need to learn to listen to your own body and eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. That way you are respecting your body and giving it the nutrition it needs and deserves. At The Body Retreat we work with all our clients to create a plan that works for their lifestyle and their goals so that they can build healthy habits that work for them. Our Weight Loss Retreats are based on the principle of balancing blood sugar which combined with the behaviour element of the programme ensure that clients are set up for long term success once they return home.
What are your thoughts and experiences of Pre Supper Snacking? We would love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment below.
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