By Julie Daniluk, RNC Nutritionist and Host of Healthy Gourmet on the OWN network Julie's soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House), advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
Do you struggle with cravings? They aren’t your fault! It turns out that our hormones cause our cravings. Hormones are the messengers that influence how we feel, what we want, and how fast our body stores fat.
When your stomach is empty, it produces a hormone called ghrelin that causes hunger. Think of ghrelin like the gremlin that is sabotaging your weight loss efforts. If you let yourself go hungry, your cravings will be too intense to resist!
The trick is to stay full. The way to get rid of the “ghrelin gremlin” is to eat wholesome foods that suppress your appetite. No gimmicks, no crash diets, just consistent tools to help you stay full and satisfied. By reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories a day, you could lose 50 pounds in a year. This can be as easy as cutting back on 3 ounces of potato chips or one cheeseburger a day.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Avoid extra visits to your doctor due to unbalanced blood sugar. Soluble fiber in apples, called pectin, reduces the amount of sugar and calories that’s absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal. That’s good news for folks who want to prevent type 2 diabetes, but it also makes apples one of the best snacks for dieters. Apple pectin prevents spikes in blood sugar that lead to increased fat storage. It will help you avoid the blood sugar “crash” that leaves you craving more food.
How long it will keep me satiated?
Apple pectin can keep you full for 1-2 hours.
When should I eat it?
Eat an apple before or after a meal to help keep you full faster and longer, or between meals to help keep blood sugar balanced. Consider adding apple pectin powder to yogurt, porridge/oatmeal or shakes.
Banish Hunger With Bran
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate you can't digest. This is great news for weight loss because it means fiber has no calories. One of the richest sources of insoluble fiber is wheat bran.
How long will it will keep me satiated?
Fill up your stomach with a large glass of water and 1 or 2 tablespoons of bran and you will stop the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin for approximately an hour (results will vary depending on the person). Bran absorbs water and moisture in the stomach, becoming a sponge. It physically expands in the stomach and makes you feel full, so you will eat less. Start off taking small amounts and gradually increase the dose depending on how your body responds.
Note: Wheat allergies are becoming more common. Rice bran will work as effectively as wheat bran.
When should I eat it?
Take bran with meals. Make sure to consume enough fluid to create the sponge effect. Bran is great in shakes or apple sauce, where the liquid is built into the food. Drink lots of liquid because if you don’t, then the fiber can become like cork in your digestive tract and cause painful cramps or constipation. The best time to have wheat bran would be at breakfast, after dinner or before bed. If you’re going to have fiber alone between meals, then accompany it with at least 12 ounces of water.
Go Green to Get Lean
Green tea contains an amazing phytonutrient called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that increases the hormone CCK (cholecystokinin), which is responsible for creating the feeling of satiation. Feeling full between meals is the greatest weapon against the battle of the bulge. EGCG also stimulates your metabolism by activating thermogenesis, which means your cells are burning energy – including fat!
How well does it work?
In the short-term, this may help you feel satiated for 2-4 hours, depending on what kind of meal you ate recently. Over the long-term, if you drink green tea daily, it will help prevent storage of excess fat and improve your body’s fat-burning ability. Because it also affects your appetite-regulating hormones, it can change how your body metabolizes food and handles cravings.
When should I take it?
EGCG liquid or tablets are a great tool to keep in your purse or pocket so you can avoid cravings when out shopping or at work. You can drink tea before, after and between meals.
Note: Whole-leaf green tea contains fluoride that may disrupt thyroid function so consider taking EGCG extract if you suffer from hypothyroidism.
Divine From the Vine
Many people have heard about the health benefits of red wine. When you ferment red wine long enough, it becomes red wine vinegar. And while you wouldn’t want to drink a glass of red wine vinegar, it’s still a healthy, appetite-suppressing addition to your meal. Acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, helps keep food in the stomach for a longer period of time, so release of the hunger hormone ghrelin is delayed. Vinegar also improves digestion, and it helps you feel full faster and for a longer period of time.
Acetic acid also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar following and will lower the glycemic index of many foods. Red wine vinegar contains nutrients such the antioxidant resveratrol that has been shown to protect the heart.
A dose of approximately 2 tablespoons will provide the best results, and blood levels of sugar and insulin remained normalized for at least 45 minutes after women and men ate a meal of vinegar and white bread. If vinegar can help people cope with high glycemic foods like white bread, then imagine how effective it would be if you ate healthy whole grains.
You can expect it to fight cravings for 1-1.5 hours, depending on the contents of the meal consumed, but the effects of increased fat metabolism in the liver can extend more than 3 hours after a meal!
When should I take it?
One tablespoon of red wine vinegar mixed with sparkling water makes a great cocktail. Drink this with meals to support digestion and regulate your blood sugar. Another study showed that taking vinegar at bedtime helps regulate blood sugar levels the next morning.
Pining for Pine nuts
Many diets say that fats are to be avoided because they are high in calories, but not all fat is created equal. The omega-6 fatty acid found in pine nuts called pinolenic acid has been shown to increase the release of satiety hormones. This type of fat can actually promote weight loss and reduce food intake. Pinolenic acid appears to be particularly effective at stimulating the release of CCK (cholecystokinin), the hormone that works as a hunger suppressant. Additionally, pine nuts effectively improved satiety and increased CCK in overweight, post-menopausal women.
What should I expect?
The satiety effects of pine nut oil lasts at least 30 minutes, but may not carry over into next meal. Some people may experience a longer feeling of satiety as pinolenic acid affects hormone release. In some cases, the sensation of fullness could last up to 2 hours.
When should I eat them?
Pine nuts make a great snack on the go. Consider making the delicious pesto (recipe on the next page) and adding it to your vegetable side dish, salad or whole grain noodles. Be sure to enjoy pine nuts and pine nut oil raw to protect the health qualities of the oil.
Here’s a pesto that will please your taste buds while it crushes your cravings. When served with whole grain crackers, this pesto contains all 5-appetite suppressants suggested.
2 cups fresh basil
1 cup kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
½ green apple, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp pink rock or grey sea salt
Optional ingredient: 1 tsp EGCG extract
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend on high until desired paste/consistency is reached. Store in airtight glass jar in fridge or freezer.
Serve with whole grain (high bran) crackers.