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Six Steps to Manage Midday Hunger

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Six Steps to Manage Midday Hunger

Do you find yourself starving by three or four o’clock in the afternoon? Do you typically ignore your hunger pangs and postpone eating until dinner? Or do you scramble for anything you can get your hands on, like the day old donuts in the office break room? If this sounds like you, here are some simple tips that will help you get through the day and keep you from eating everything but the kitchen sink.

  1. Eat regularly. Be sure to eat every three to four hours throughout the day. Always start with breakfast (literally “break the overnight fast”). And don’t forget to eat lunch!
  2. Balance protein, carbohydrates and fats (P-C-F) at each meal. Whenever you eat, mix some protein from a lean source with fiber-rich carbs and some healthy type of fat. A breakfast meal could contain a few scrambled egg whites and 1-2 slices of 100% wholegrain bread with a tablespoon of almond butter. Add fruit for extra filling fiber (and healthy quick digestible carbs).
  3. Fuel up with a mid-morning snack. As with meals, optimal snacks contain a nutrient combo. For example, a nonfat Greek yogurt for protein and a few chopped nuts for heart-healthy fat. Think of this snack as an opportunity to keep your hunger under wraps before it strikes at 3 o’clock.
  4. Don’t munch, eat lunch. If you are one to not take a break to eat lunch, you might be barking up the hungry door in the afternoon. Whether you pack it from home or go out, remember the P-C-F rule described in step two. A lunch example could be a turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread stacked with lots of veggies, an apple and nonfat yogurt. If you’re eating out and order an entrĂ©e salad with lean meat, such as turkey or chicken, be sure to have a few healthy carbs with it like beans or wholegrain crackers. The carbs are critical for fuel and fiber and will give you energy for the next few hours. Be sure to order a light salad dressing on the side.
  5. Plan and pack your snacks. So when hunger strikes, you are prepared! Examples of healthy and satisfying snacks can be: a small handful of nuts, a piece of fruit with either a low fat cheese or ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a nonfat yogurt topped with berries, or a quick homemade trail mix (combine 1 tablespoon of almonds, 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and ¼ cup of your favorite high fiber cereal).
  6. Quench your thirst before you get thirsty. Make sure to drink up throughout the day too! If you wait until you feel parched, that’s a pretty clear sign you waited too long to drink. Think of water first and limit the other beverages to sugar free very low calorie options.

Final note: Keep a stash of portable and non-perishable emergency snacks with you wherever you go. You wouldn’t leave the house without your cell phone, right? So don’t leave home without some sensible snacks. Store them wherever you can: in your purse, briefcase, suitcase when traveling, and even in your car! Examples of snacks that travel well include: snack packs of nuts, small bags of dried fruit and high fiber granola bars.

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This article was provided by Elana Paddock, RD, LD, CDE, registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cooper Clinic.