If you’ve ever had a moment where that hunger is so powerful it feels like your stomach is sucking up against your spine — you’re not alone. No matter what foods we fill up on, that bottomless-pit of hunger still manages to creep up. But did you know some of the foods you’re eating can make you hungrier?
Whether they’re favorites or healthy choices, these “calorie culprits” wreak chaos on cravings and weight goals. What’s a Womanista to do? To help you make wiser choices come the devour hour, we share seven foods that up your hunger game.
If you’re anything like Lorelei Gilmore, you love pizza. In fact, you eat tons of it and consider it one of your four major food groups! Due to its combination of white flour, hydrogenated oils, processed cheeses and preservatives, it unfortunately throws your blood sugar levels off. These sugars regulate satiation hormones in the hunger-regions of your brain. Instead, try to make pizza at home and choose whole-wheat dough, lean meat and tons of veggies.
George Costanza was on to something when he screamed out the window, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” Chips, salty snack mixes and our beloved pretzels are not just low in protein and fiber, but these quick-digesting simple carbs produce insulin highs and lows. Thanks to a sensory specific satiety hormone, we fill up on these snacks, but only fill our salty desire — leaving our sweet spot empty. Incredibly dehydrating, these snacks confuse our body into feeling hungrier when it’s just thirsty.
Throwing all dietary restraint to the wind, Alcohol & Alcoholism reports three servings can slash your body’s levels of leptin by 30 percent — a hormone that crushes hunger and keeps you full. By depleting your body of the starchy carb, glycogen, you begin craving more to replace what’s lost. Moreover, the University of Liverpool found as little as two drinks can increase the amount we eat since alcohol can also alter our perception of food, enhancing its taste — which is why pizza at 4 a.m. feels like a good idea.
Sushi’s one of those foods we cannot get enough of. Quick to eat and super cute to Instagram, there’s nothing like a plate of spicy California rolls to win us over. Unfortunately, sushi leaves everyone feeling grabby hands for more because the simple carbs like refined white rice digest faster than complex carbs, spiking blood sugar levels. Sushi looks like a healthy alternative, but contains very little protein. Next time you’re craving sushi, opt for sashimi, rolls with brown or black rice, and anything with avocado — healthy fats keep you full longer.
Fruits and Processed Sweets
Apples might keep doctors away, but they don’t do much with helping you put the fork down. As the habitual snack we rely on to fill up on fiber or shed some pounds, research suggests the brain reacts oddly when we consume fructose: We get hungrier. With a focus on our brain’s response to sugar, fructose creates greater activity in the reward area, thus increasing our desire to satiate our hunger. Often used as sweeteners in processed foods and drinks, these increasing levels of fructose in our diets contribute to growing levels of overeating and obesity.
We don’t hate salad, nor are we saying to stop eating leafy greens. Salads are ideal meals but an unbalanced one can leave you super famished and growling within hours — or immediately after. Don’t make it rabbit food. Instead, add juicy proteins like salmon or burger meat; hearty veggies; healthy fats, and strong flavor cheeses just for a kick. Moreover, don’t make the mistake of low-calorie dressings which are high in sugar and make you hungrier.
Snack and Energy Bars
There’s nothing like a snack or energy bar to accent your workout, right? Bubble bursting time — these are often full to the brim with artificial sweeteners, preservatives and saturated fats, which will unleash the growl. With some even containing more calories than you burn during a single run, it’s wise to fuel up on protein and high-quality carbs like whole grains, beans and milk to boost energy.