It’s 6:30 PM, and you finally trudge through the door. Another long day of work, and you’re exhausted. You’re starving, too: You haven’t had a chance to eat since lunch. The thought of spending more time cooking seems impossible. You need to eat—now.
Welcome to the moment of weight loss plan implosion. How many times have you made it through the day eating well and feeling good, only to have all your efforts dissolve after work when you inhale that bag of popcorn? We all know the first tactic to preventing this is to not let yourself get so hungry in the first place. Great advice, and something you should strive for. We’ve also given you great recipes and shopping tips to help you cook in bulk ahead of time and eat the leftovers during the week. But we all know there are times when life interferes and you arrive in the kitchen ravenous, with no leftovers on hand, on the verge of a binge you’ll regret. Below are five tips to tackling your hunger healthfully rather than reaching for that bag of chips.
First: Pause, take a deep breath, and set a mental timer. Give yourself five minutes to get in control of your hunger. These simple actions will give you the opportunity to eat a small amount of healthy food, and get the rest of your dinner going. After five minutes, you’ll have taken the edge off your hunger. And in less than ten minutes, you’ll be sitting down to dinner.
Second: Flip your meal: Who said you can’t eat dessert first? Since a complete meal should have a little of each food group, it’s fine to eat your fruit now. Grab a banana, a handful of berries, or an apple. In just a minute, you’ll have your blood sugar getting back up to speed. The only rule? It must be fruit, not juice. Studies show drinking juice doesn’t tackle hunger—while real fruit does.
Third: Make fresh veggies the next part of your meal: In just another minute, you can slice and eat some delicious fresh vegetables. Try cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, or fresh red pepper strips—they keep well in the fridge and are simple to prepare.
Fourth: Reach for some no-cook protein. Canned tuna or beans, low-fat cheeses or plain yogurt, even a little hummus will do the trick. In another minute, you’ll have a burrito with black beans and low-fat cheese done, or a wrap with hummus in the works.
Fifth: Quickly bulk out the remainder of your meal with more veggies. While you’re getting your protein ready, throw some frozen or fresh veggies into a glass bowl with a little water. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave. Or just wash the veggies and use them raw. In two minutes, you’ll have some spinach to add to your burrito, some peppers and mushrooms to layer onto your hummus wrap, or some yellow and green squash to mix with your lentils.
That’s it. In just five minutes, you’ve had a healthy ‘appetizer’, prepared a satisfying dinner, and—most importantly—successfully sidestepped a diet meltdown. Congratulations—now go eat!