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Anyone can eat healthy for a couple of days, but soon after a new healthy diet is implemented, the person feels a vague sense of dis-satisfaction. Quite often it's explained as a general sense that they don't feel fulfilled after their meal. The food might be in sufficient quantity and there might not be actual hunger present, but that little something that tells you 'I'm done' is missing.
'Unhealthy' foods tend to have one thing in common--they are bursting with flavor. Whether that is flavor from excessive salt, spices, sugar, or fat--it's there, and it can be powerfully addictive.
The good news is--you can create much of that experience without sabotaging your diet if you know what you are doing.
Rather than feel like a failure that you can't stick to your perfectly reasonable and theoretically sufficient nutrition plan, use these tips and tricks to hack your healthy menu and make it satisfying once again!
Unless you have been specifically told by your health care professional that you need to follow a low-salt diet, you should not be afraid of adding a little salt, specifically sea salt. Sea salt contains many important minerals. Sodium is, in fact, a required nutrient and if you don't get enough your body will fight back.
Most foods made from scratch at home have little to no salt unless you specifically add it to your food.
Bonus hack: You will taste the salt more if you add it upon serving the food rather than while cooking it.
Salt is satisfaction! Use coconut aminos or fish sauce for extra punch. Your body can process occasional extra salt you consume provided you drink enough water and you are free of serious health problems. And if you used to eat out a lot, chances are you can never add as much salt as most restaurants or processed foods do. And sea salt is much better for your body than refined table salt.
We all know there are tons of recipes online that make liberal use of spices, but who has time to prepare an elaborate meal all the time? Take some amazing spices and use them when you prepare something quick.
--Quick tuna and cucumber salad--
Mix a can of tuna with chopped cucumber and a handful of chick peas. Add dill, cumin and lemon juice to taste. And sea salt and pepper, of course.
--Quick Anytime Meal--
Heat up some frozen veggies with chopped chicken breast that was prepared ahead. Sprinkle on some cilantro, parsley and thyme. Add a splash of olive oil or a handful of chopped nuts and sea salt and pepper. Serve with a microwaved red potato with a spoonful of ghee or pat of butter.
Add some cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg, or use pumpkin pie spice for a fall-themed bowl
Bonus hack: Fresh spices have more flavor, but dried ones will always be there so have both on hand!
Add a bit of honey or stevia to beverages, oatmeal or protein shakes.
Add a small handful of no-sugar-added berries to salads or oatmeal. A little bit gives a big punch of taste and the small amount of calories added is worth it! Cranberries add as especially good bang-for-the-buck. You'll also get an antioxidant boost.
Add cocoa powder to coffee, or sweeten coffee or tea with cinnamon or cardamom.
Bonus hack: Jazz up seltzer with a splash of all natural fruit juice
Dig into herbal teas of any type. But try to make your own at home--many shops sneak in added sugar without telling you.
Sip on various broths throughout the day. Beef and chicken are favorites. Carry in a thermos. Great for those chilly days.
Or brew up a pot of bone broth--it's super easy, super nutritious and super satisfying!
Make a mug of cocoa--no sugar added varieties.
Low sugar vegetable juice can also be a filling change of pace. Beware of carrot juice or juices with apple juice listed as the first ingredient--those are sugar bombs.
If you tolerate dairy, an old fashioned glass of milk is a proven hunger killer. Warm milk with spices added is downright luxurious. Cardamom, coriander and ginger are great.
Bonus hack: Warm beverages are more satisfying than chilled ones.
If you are primarily consuming low glycemic foods such as whole grains paired with proteins and produce, chances are you are getting enough calories and you are hungry for other reasons. Keep in mind that your body can burn off bodyfat in these conditions to supply your body with needed energy. However, in the beginning your stomach might need time to return to the size nature intended if you have been stretching it over the years by overeating. In this case, exercise a little patience and faith that it will get easier. Try to distract yourself by staying busy and if you are truly just too hungry, have something more to eat.
If you are consuming three balanced meals and a snack here and there, and you are still struggling with hunger weeks into your new diet, it's time to consult a Dietitian to re-evaluate, especially if you have tried these flavor hacks and they just aren't helping. No one should have to suffer while managing their weight. It's just a matter of finding the right solution.
Best of luck to you!
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