My friend Anne some time ago coined the term “homicidal hunger” to sum up the ravenous hunger often experienced when you get home in the late afternoon after a long day of work without having enough to eat. Homicidal hunger is a state where you feel like you could literally harm someone if they stood in front of you and the fridge. The most common time of the day that people feel this way is often in between lunch and supper since it has been many hours since the last meal. If it has been more than 3-5 hours since your last balanced meal you will likely feel a dip in your energy, mood and emotions. You are also not likely to make healthy nutrition choices in a state of homicidal hunger and instead will reach for whatever is quick and loaded in carbohydrates. Your brain will naturally crave sweets, potato chips and other carbohydrate containing foods when your blood sugars drop too low. This happens to dietitians too! As the chocoholic dietitian you know that I will be reaching for chocolate mid-afternoon if I have not had a good snack between my lunch which is typically at 12:30 and my supper which is often close to 7pm. Instead of trying to rely on will power which inevitably always fails, why not set yourself up for success by trying out the following tips.
One of the most common questions that we get asked in our counselling practice is how many calories to eat per day. If you have read a diet magazine that suggests an adult needs only 1200 calories per day this is likely far too low to be sustainable, enjoyable and helpful to manage a healthy metabolism (after all a 2 year old needs 1000 calories a day and they are much smaller than an adult!).
Consuming too few calories compared to what your body requires is a form of stress for the body and will inevitably not help you manage a healthy weight and enjoy flexible eating habits over time. Your metabolism is like a furnace, if food is in short supply it slows the furnace or metabolism down. On the other hand eating too many calories for what your body requires is one of the leading causes of obesity in North America. I often find many of our clients struggling to lose excess weight underestimate how much they are eating and overestimate how many calories are burned during physical activity. If you are trying to lose weight, hitting the gym and burning off 300 calories during your workout would not warrant an extra large supper and justify two helpings of dessert.
The total amount of calories you require per day will vary based on gender, age, activity level and genetics. The chart below gives you an estimate of how many calories you likely need per day. For people that are extremely active they will even require even more than what is listed on the chart below.
Activity levels on the chart below can be defined by the following:
- LOW = less than 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
- MOD. ACTIVE = 30-60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
- ACTIVE = 60 or more minutes a day of moderate physical activity in addition to daily activities.
DAILY GOALS FOR TOTAL CALORIES
|Activity level||*Low||*Mod. active||*Active||Activity level||*Low||*Mod. active||*Active|
|76 +||2000||2000||2400||76 +||1600||1800||2000|
*Calorie levels are based on the Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) and activity levels from the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes Macro nutrients Report, 2002.
Choose not to starve or stuff yourself – getting a healthy amount of calories per day will help you have the healthful and soulful eating habits you deserve and help you manage a healthy body weight.
Thanks for reading!
“The Chocoholic Dietitian”
- Make sure your lunch contains both protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in foods such as grains/starches, vegetables and fruits are essential sugar sources for your brain and muscles. If you don’t get enough carbohydrates you will more likely become emotional, tired and unfocused throughout your day. At the same time, if you only carbohydrate-rich foods without a source of protein you will feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows in your energy levels. Protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, legumes, soy foods, nuts and seeds are critical in a meal to help you stabilize your blood sugars leading to better focus, energy and a sense of fullness.
- Eat every 3-5 hours for maximum energy and to prevent getting too hungry and overeating. If lunch was at 12 noon then by 3-5pm plan to have a snack.
- Make sure you stash your office and home with healthy snacks that are visual. Food psychologists have shown that the more convenient the healthy foods are the more likely it is we will eat them. If your veggies are stashed at the back of the fridge and require peeling and chopping you may decide to skip them. If your fruit is tucked away in a fridge drawer often you won’t see them and think to eat them. Instead put fresh fruit displayed attractively in a fruit bowl on your counter or on the corner of your desk in your office. Spend a half hour per week and pre-chop your veggies so they are easy to grab with hummus or veggie dip as a snack.
- If you are tempted by the vending machine quick fixes of chocolate, chips and pop at work you may wish to try what my client Julian discovered. Julian decided not to bring cash and coins to work anymore and found by only carrying a debit card and/or credit card vending machine snacks quickly disappeared.
Top 10 Snack Attacks
- Yogurt parfait (yogurt, berries and cereal)
- Oat bran or bran muffin and cheese
- Dried fruit (such as raisins/craisins/apricots/dates) and nuts (such as almonds/peanuts/cashews)
- Raw veggies (such as snap/snow peas, carrots and mini tomatoes) and hummus
- Fresh fruit or dried fruit bar and milk or soy milk or a smoothie
- Canned fruit cup or applesauce cup and cottage cheese
- Grapes and cheese cubes
- Whole grain crackers and mini-can of flavored tuna/salmon
- Protein bar and unsweetened juice
- Coffee Shop latte, steamed milk or chai tea
Thanks for reading!
“The Chocoholic Dietitian”
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