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If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you must be familiar with those extremely sharp hunger pangs that hit you around 4.30pm – 5pm. And there’s always some junk food stored away in your kitchen cupboard or temptingly displayed in your office pantry that is sure to throw your diet off track.

So here’s what happens – you stuff your face, wait for the guilt to surface, promise yourself tomorrow is the new first day of your diet plan and then repeat the cycle the next afternoon!

What’s most important to understand is that hunger pangs rarely have anything to do with an actual physiological need and are mostly based on your moods. During my stint at a PR agency, clients throwing a fit or journalists who refused to budge always made me reach out for that bag of chips, matthis, vada pao, bhajias, some tea, some coffee, cigarettes… and this is despite the fact that I always prefer to eat healthy food. But in that moment, the pangs are SO overpowering, the mind doesn’t listen to reason.

So before I get into the 7 tips, the first thing is to become aware that healthier options are ALWAYS available. It’s just about taking a moment to make the more nutritious choice that will prove beneficial in the long run.

1. Choose high protein nutritious snacks

Nutritious doesn’t have to mean tiny portions. I’m sure you will be happy to replace 10-12 potato chips which add up to 250 calories and leave you feeling still hungry with an egg/paneer/chicken sandwich which has the same amount of calories and is definitely more satisfying. Other high protein snack options are a boiled egg, veg and cheese sandwich, cooked sookha chana, dahi papdi, hummus with pita, idli with chutney, an energy bar, baked almonds/walnuts/pistachios, flavoured yogurt, a cheese cube with a cheese cracker, thin-crust pizza, momos and bhelpuri. These snacks might not sound super-healthy but they keep you full until dinnertime and reduce chances of overeating.

2. Take a moment to hydrate

Before jumping into your snack, drink a glass of water. Sometimes hunger pangs are actually you misreading your body which is sending out a signal to be rehydrated, not fed. And even if you do eat after, you will probably eat a little less.

3. Make fruit your friend

They pamper our skin, fortify our immune and digestive systems and raise energy levels. Fruits are also the best source of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – which are required in small quantity but are essential for bodily processes. Carry fresh fruit with you, like an apple, pear, banana, plums, guava or dried fruits like dates or figs. If you’re really tied up at work, just order a glass of juice for a healthy sugar fix.

4. Eat mindfully

Pay attention to what you eat and savour each bite. Avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied. Eating consciously also helps you enjoy your food more.

5. Replace fingers with forks

If your snack can be eaten with a fork and knife or chopsticks, use them! It helps in taking smaller bites and the cutting of food introduces a small pause between two bites or morsels, hence delaying eating time. This way one eats slowly and less.

6. Liquids count too

Excess tea/coffee causes acidity, constipation, loss of appetite, sometimes gives bad mouth odour, opens up skin pores and makes one prone to acne, and reduces the intake of water. So whenever you can, substitute tea/coffee with water, fruit juices, green tea, lemonade, Rooh Afza, ginger ale, a milkshake, fruit smoothie, etc. Not only will it fill you up but also leave you feeling energized.

7. Single servings

When you go to a farsan shop, ask for a single serving packet of your favourite sweet or savoury item. This way you don’t land up finishing the whole large packet that was meant to last you a week.

Remember, if you’re not taking the time to choose what you eat and just reaching out for what is most easily available, you’re probably making a mistake you’ll regret later.

Got any more tips you’d like to add to this list? Let me know in the Comments section!

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