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Six expert tips for sticking to your healthy eating goals

Hungry man with knife and fork

While the word itself was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018, feeling ‘hangry’ is an age-old problem. That specific combination of hunger and anger – the kind that can only be cured by devouring food, glorious, food – is enough to turn even the most sweet-tempered person into a raging monster.

According to a survey from WW, 86 per cent of people experience hanger, with 34 per cent saying they think about food more when they’re on a calorie controlled or restrictive diet. But why does hunger produce an emotional reaction for so many of us?

Read: Healthy snacks to power you through the day

“Similar to when people feel easily irritated when they have low energy due to lack of sleep, the lack of fuel from food can make you feel irritated and tired,” says Lifesum nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt. “All individuals are different. Some are more sensitive to the feeling of hunger, why others aren’t as affected.”

The good news is there are lots of ways to keep hanger at bay without falling off the healthy eating bandwagon.

1. Stock up on frozen fruit

“Frozen fruit and vegetables are quick, nutritious, cost-effective options to have on standby,” says GP and health coach Dr Helen Lawal.

You can buy bags of mixed berries that defrost quickly at room temperature or with a quick blast in the microwave, or you can add them frozen to smoothies. They also go great paired with yoghurt, ice cream or stirred into porridge.

2. Make sure meals are balanced

“Balanced meals make you feel fuller for longer and provide you with the nutrients needed to fuel your body,” says Ms Svanfeldt, which is why it’s best to avoid carb-heavy dishes and ensure you get a good mix of dietary fibres, healthy unsaturated fat and protein.

But don’t fear unsaturated fat. Foods such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and oily fish have many benefits, including making meals more satisfying.

Read: A handy guide to ensure you don’t eat too much

3. Double your dishes
While you’re rustling up a balanced meal or healthy snack, double the portion size and save it for later, Dr Lawal recommends. “Keep a stock in the fridge for hangry moments when you’re tempted to reach for the biscuit tin.”

4. Bulk up with beans

Another way to feel satisfied for longer is by adding pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils to recipes.

“Keep your store cupboard stocked with a variety of tinned beans,” says Dr Lawal. “Packed with protein and filling fibre, add to whatever meal you’re already cooking from curries to stews.”

Read: Cooking with beans and pulses

5. Bring your own snacks


If you often succumb to sugary impulse purchases when you’re out and about keep a nutritious snack in your bag so you have it available when your energy drops. That way, you wont be tempted to buy an on-the-go snack that are often full sugar.

6. Get enough sleep
Do you find yourself snacking more when you’re tired? There’s a reason for that. Lack of sleep makes it harder to control your appetite. Not getting enough good quality sleep can affect the hormones that control how hungry and full we feel.

– With PA

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