You should feel satisfied after your meals.
Ok, that shouldn’t be this big bold statement, but for some, it is.
I mean, it seems an obvious thing – you eat, you’re satisfied and you move on doing what you are doing, not thinking about food until the next time you get hungry. But many of you reading this know it doesn’t always work that way for you.
Honestly, we don’t know how to eat proper meals anymore. Some of this is because we have food fear around calories, fat grams, and being overly concerned about portion sizes vs. just listening to our hunger signals. Because we have all of these fears around food running through our head, we allow our thoughts about food to be greater than just listening to our satiety signals. Instead of just eating until we feel satisfied, we stop eating because our “points” ran out or the portions we were doled out weren’t actually enough. What a bummer. So, we get up from the table, still hungry, and try to distract ourselves – all while still thinking about food.
On the flip side, another thing that can happen is even if we have eaten enough, our brain isn’t getting the message – we still feel hungry. Maybe this is you. Maybe you think, “I certainly ate enough, why am I still hungry? My stomach feels full, but my brain doesn’t.” Again, some of you know exactly what I mean.
The answer? Leptin resistance.
Leptin is a hunger hormone that communicates with our brain that we are full and do not need more food. High leptin = highly satisfied. Leptin is a hormone that’s actually sent to our brain from the fat cells. There should be a natural fluctuation of fat in the fat cells. Fat is always flowing in and out. This is normal. It flows in after meals, out between meals. BUT, because of years of sugar and processed food eating, (and some details I am leaving out as to not bore you) many people have developed a condition called leptin resistance. When you are leptin resistant, your brain doesn’t get the signal you are full. As we gain weight, gain weight, gain weight, we actually have very high leptin levels so we SHOULD feel full and satisfied in our brain. But our brain has become desensitized to the message.
We have to restore the balance and we have to retrain the brain to hear the leptin signals to truly feel satisfied after meals. The eating plan in my Best You Plan trains your body to do this, but to give you a couple quick pointers right now, try the following:
1. Get rid of (slowly, gracefully as you need) foods like soda, juice, candy, chips, processed crunchy carbohydrates like cereal, chips, crackers. I know some of you feel like I’m being the mean dietitian, but I’m just trying to help. Once we get you feeling great, I PROMISE, you won’t crave them or even miss them the same way once your body balances.
2. Eat more fats. Steamed green beans? Blech. Add some butter. Low-fat yogurt? Try going for the full-fat (psst they just add sugar to the low-fat stuff)
3. Stop grazing. No seriously, eating constantly throughout the day is a sure-fire way to mess up your hunger hormones. It’s not a normal thing for humans to be eating and snacking all day long. Try to just go back to 3 solid meals. As a dietitian, I give you permission. Your metabolism isn’t going to crash if you don’t have snacks 2-3 times a day.
Remember: your hunger isn’t just all in your head. It’s not a personality problem. It’s just an imbalance. An imbalance that is correctable with the right nutrition methods.
To your best you,
Pictured: 3 eggs, veggies cooked in butter, 1/2 avocado + sauerkraut annnnnnd definitely ate a couple pieces of bacon that I forgot to put in the picture because #notafoodphotographer — Totally satisfied for hours, not even thinking/needing food. Not bloated after like many people get after a sizable meal.