Which Foods Make You Hungrier?

Hunger is no longer my enemy. I have made friends with my hunger during the past two weeks; I've been practicing intermittent fasting since Thanksgiving. Each day, I only consume food during an 8-hour feeding window: 12noon-8pm. From the time I get up in the morning until lunch rolls around, I feel hungry.

Now, I should clarify: this hunger is nothing horrible. It comes in waves, increases for a bit, then subsides. I drink a cup of coffee, plenty of water, maybe some green tea, and all of this helps. But there are certain foods and beverages that have the opposite effect: they make hunger INCREASE. Especially if you are trying to fast, these foods will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and make your life a misery.

Which foods are notorious for increasing hunger and cravings?

1) Diet soda. Drinking diet soda is actually worse than drinking nothing. The fake sugar substitutes might not carry any calories, but because of the sweetness, the body is fooled into releasing insulin into the bloodstream. This causes blood sugar levels to plummet. You might develop headaches, or just feel hungrier than ever. There is absolutely no nutrition in these beverages, and plenty of chemicals your body does not need.

2) Low fat and fat-free products. Any product that should contain fat but has been altered by scientists and labeled LOW FAT or FAT-FREE is probably full of corn syrup. Fat-free salad dressing, mayo, half & half, coffee creamer, cookies, desserts, crackers, etc. have all been doctored to have the fat removed but extra sugar (in some form or another) has been added. Corn syrup (especially the high fructose variety) is excessively sweet and causes a spike in blood sugar. This results in excess insulin being pumped into the bloodstream and a resulting spike in hunger. Fat and protein tend to help one feel satiated while fat free products do not.

3) Refined carbs. Any products made from refined flour and sugar will cause the blood sugar to spike. This includes bread, bagels, pasta, cookies, pies, cakes, muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc. Limiting refined carbs, eating them with fat and protein, opting for whole grains instead, all these are good solutions to this problem. Something as simple as spreading butter on your bread will help slow down the absorption of those carbs. This will minimize that blood sugar spike and help reduce the amount of insulin sent into the blood. The added fat will also help you feel satisfied for longer after eating.

4) Engineered junk food. This includes all of the bagged chips and treats we tend to mindlessly consume while sitting on the couch. Stuff like Doritos, Fritos, Ruffles, Cracker Jacks, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Twinkies, Ho Hos, any food with a nickname. Evil scientists have tweaked these "foods" to be particularly palatable. Meaning you can't eat just one. A deadly combination of MSG, salt, sugar, and cheap fats combine to create a crunchy texture and a mouth-watering taste that creates more hunger than it relieves.

If all of the above make you more hungry, what are the foods that help relieve hunger?

That's easy. Whole foods tend to fill you up and satisfy for longer. Protein and fat are crucial components of a meal that sticks to your ribs. (In a good way!) Add plenty of fresh veggies: leafy greens (like spinach), roots (like carrots) , and stems (like celery.) Craving something crunchy? Try an apple or some almonds. Whole foods contain fiber, which tends to fill up the belly. Fat and protein are slower to digest than carbs so these will help you feel satiated for longer.

I have already said that during your feeding window you can eat anything you like. This is true. But if you choose to mostly consume foods that increase hunger, you will find the fast becomes much more difficult. Something to keep in mind.