I'm a registered dietitian in private practice, and it pains me to see people working hard to achieve health and nutrition goals and not always having success due to a few common mistakes. Look no further. I have fixes for the mistakes that may be blocking your progress.
I Always Feel Hungry. What Should I Do?
The first step is to determine whether your hunger is truly stomach hunger, as opposed to emotional, boredom or stress hunger. When you are under stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which use up your energy stores, making you feel hungry. Cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods are common.
In this circumstance, ask yourself, "Would a carrot satisfy my hunger?" If the answer is yes, you are probably actually hungry. If not, you may be bored or stressed. If you're not sure, do a non-food activity for 10-15 minutes and reevaluate.
If you are constantly physically hungry, you are probably not balancing your meals properly. Make sure to have carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal. Fat in particular keeps you full longer. Always eat mindfully, savoring each bite and paying attention to the taste of your food, free from distractions. In the video player above, sports dietitian Leslie Bonci breaks down how much you should eat per day.
Why Do I Crash After a Meal?
Eating carbohydrates by themselves can cause your blood sugars to spike and crash, leaving you feeling fatigued, irritable and even hungry soon after you eat. Make sure each meal has a source of protein to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and keep your blood sugars stable. Also, it's important to fuel your body throughout the day, eating every three to four hours to keep your blood sugars stable and your energy levels high. On the other hand, leaving carbohydrates out of your meal can drain your body of energy, since carbohydrates provide the energy that fuels your cells and your brain. Bottom line: Balance carbohydrates and protein together at each meal. Learn how to find the right protein balance.
Why am I Not Losing Weight After Cutting Calories?
One of the most common mistakes I see is reducing calorie intake to help with weight loss, to the point of even skipping entire meals. This is one of the worst things you can do. Even 24 to 48 hours of a restricted diet can decrease your metabolism by 15 to 30 perecent. When you underfeed your body, it slows down to protect itself and thus it slows your metabolism. You are unable let go of fat stores since your body wants to keep itself safe. Not to mention that calories have little to do with big picture nutrition. I would rather have you fuel your body throughout the day, eating every three to four hours and balancing the food groups, than worry about calories.
What Should I Look for on Food Labels?
The most important thing to look for on the food label is the ingredient list. When possible, buy whole, real foods and savor the good stuff. Stop looking for low-fat this and low-sugar that. When one thing is removed, more of something else is added to compensate for taste. Plus, the artificial ingredients that often replace the fat or sugar should always be avoided.
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