If you are trying to eat healthier by eating salads or choosing low-fat or calorie-reduced foods but find it hard to stick to your diet because you feel hungry and deprived, it is very likely that something is missing in your healthy diet. A healthy diet that helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and improve your blood cholesterol and sugar levels should provide you with all the energy your need without feeling hungry until the next meal.
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Not Enough Calories
Many dieters believe that healthy eating means eating very little foods or choosing low-calorie version of your usual foods. Although it is true that many Americans eat more calories than they need, which contributes to the growing obesity epidemic, starving yourself is not the solution. For example, if your breakfast only consists of a small packet of oatmeal, you have a big salad filled with vegetables with 1 oz. of chicken and a fat-free dressing, and then have 1/3 cup of pasta with tomato sauce and broccoli for dinner, you are not eating enough calories. Starving yourself is not a good way to lose weight as it will suppress your metabolism, making your body go into starvation mode and make it even more difficult for you to lose or maintain your weight.
Not Enough Protein
If you do not include enough protein at each of your meals and snacks, it may be the reason why you feel hungry after eating a so-called healthy meal. Protein is the best nutrient to help you feel satiated and full for hours, according to the May 2008 paper published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Each of your meals should have a minimum of 20 to 30 g of protein, which corresponds to either 2 eggs with 1 to 2 oz. of cheese or 2 tbsp. of almond butter and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese for breakfast, a chicken breast or serving of canned tuna the size of the palm of your hand for lunch and a serving of salmon, beef or pork that fills about 1/4 of your plate for dinner.
Not Enough Fat
If you are like many dieters who avoid fat completely by choosing fat-free and low-fat products out of fear of gaining weight, this explains why you feel so hungry when trying to eat healthy. Fat also contribute to satiety, in addition to enhancing the flavor of your meals and the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Include healthy fats at each of your meal to avoid feeling hungry after a couple of hours. For example, add nuts and nut butter at breakfast, avocado slices and a vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your salad at lunch and 1 oz. of your favorite full-fat cheese at dinner.
Not Enough Fiber
Fiber is mostly found in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Make sure your healthy diet contains plenty of fiber to help you feeling full longer between your meals. Soluble fiber is especially helpful because it forms a gel that delays the digestion process, providing you with a constant source of energy for many hours. For example, have grilled eggplant in your scrambled eggs or a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast, have an orange or apple for dessert, add ground flaxseeds or oat bran to your yogurt, add nuts to your salad, add barley or legumes to your soup, or experiment with okra to serve as a vegetable with your dinner.