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At work, you're punching away numbers as the clock hits 5 p.m. You're halfway through a big block of chocolate or the bag of fatty greasy chips. we've all been there. Countless times! What causes us to crave junk food in the afternoon, and what can we do about it? According to dieticians, there are a few lifestyles and physiological reasons why we feel especially hungry in the afternoon.
If you have cookies and chips as part of your everyday afternoon routine, it's only normal that you want and craves them all of the time. These are also typically readily available and less expensive. The best way to minimise cravings for such foods is to gradually change our eating habits by incorporating more whole foods into our diet. Pack small snacks like nuts, healthy seeds, and fruit to munch on at odd hours of the day.
Have you had your breakfast? When you miss the first important meal of the day, you're more likely to compensate for an easy, unhealthy on-the-go snack later in the day. When you do not eat on a regular basis, your blood sugar levels are not controlled. This causes the body to crave food, making you eat unhealthy high-calorie comfort foods. You are less likely to suffer a slump if your bodies are properly fuelled.
In addition to impacting your mood and concentration, having irregular sleeping habits has an effect on the food choices you make the next day. This is because insufficient sleep raises ghrelin, the appetite hormone, and lowers leptin, the satiety hormone, leading to a desire for fatty junk foods.
You're less likely to eat fast food if you have your nutritious yet delicious afternoon snack on hand. Flavored seeds are perfect for a mid-afternoon snack. These foods will satiate your hunger without adding sugar or saturated fats, and they will keep you fuller for longer.
Having a good breakfast and lunch, as well as healthy snacks in between, greatly decreases the need for junk food later. The easiest way to avoid an afternoon energy slump is to eat a well-balanced lunch that includes whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables.
Thirst and hunger are sometimes confused. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Drinking water before a meal has also been shown to decrease the amount of food consumed while increasing the amount of energy burned by the body. It's a total win-win situation!
Avoid foods that satisfy the body's need for more sugar, such as candy bars or cookies, but do not offer any nutrition. Learn to focus on foods high in fibre and protein to keep your energy levels high. Snack on combinations such as sunflower seeds and chia seeds, strawberries and nuts, an apple and cheese, or yoghurt with various fruits.