Diabetic and Always Hungry? Sensible Techniques to Curb Your Hunger

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - 4:34pm

By Megan Porter, RD/LD

Making changes to help you in controlling your diabetes may bring about pangs of hunger. Decipher the reasons why you may be hungry and take advantage of the sensible techniques to keep you feeling full.

Hunger Strike
When you have type-2 diabetes, hunger may strike because of many different reasons. It can be brought upon by physical reasons such as cutting down on the amount of your portion sizes; eating fewer calories to control blood sugars; or abstaining from certain foods. It can also be due to administering too much medication or insulin. Other reasons include your stomach emptying faster or your pancreas producing too much insulin. If you are insulin resistant, which leads to hungry cells, they may be sending your body a message to eat.

Understand Why You Are Hungry
Understanding why you may be hungry can help you in curbing it. If you’re hungry because you have cut down on calories or are eating less, you can make a few changes in your diet to satisfy your stomach. Try choosing foods that take longer to digest such as lean protein and high -fiber foods. These are best when combined together.

If too much oral medication or insulin seems to be the culprit, talk with your doctor about your dosage and timing of medications or insulin.

If you are insulin-resistant, you usually have a feeling of hunger after you have eaten. Losing weight will help decrease your cells’ resistance to insulin so that they can be fed and not be sending you the signals that they are hungry and you need to eat. Make sure you combine lean protein and high-fiber foods with all meals; and eat non-starchy vegetables as snacks to fill up on. You can also discuss medication options with your doctor that may help “feed” your cells.

Work with Your Body So It Does Not Feel Hungry
Once you figure out why you feel hungry, making some changes may help decrease your feelings of hunger. Take a look at your diet. If it lacks whole grains, legumes, and plenty of vegetables and fruit, you may want to add more into your diet. One way to feel fuller for longer is to eat foods high in fiber during meals and snacks. Aim for more than 25 grams of fiber per day.

Fiber comes from plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits (when you eat the peel or seeds as in berries). Foods like eggs, cheese, milk, and meat have no fiber and can also increase your body’s insulin resistance. Strive to fill your plate halfway with high-fiber vegetables and a ¼ with lean protein and ¼ with whole grain carbohydrates.

Remember to regularly combine a whole grain along with a lean protein which has been shown to stave off hunger far longer than eating a refined carbohydrate by itself. Keep in mind that carbohydrates elevate blood sugars and should be accounted for in your meal plan. A perfect example would be a stir-fry with vegetables or a whole grain bulgur with 2-3 ounces of tofu or chicken, both of which create a winning combination of fiber and protein to keep you feeling full.

Make Your Dining Experience Pleasant
All too often we rush while eating. We stuff down a meal and we’re off. By taking the time to relax and chew your food, you are sending powerful messages to your brain that signal satiety.

Learn to eat slowly. Chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing. To help in eating slower, take time to sit down at a table. Pull up a chair and turn on some soft music if needed. Use utensils and set them down after taking a bite—don’t have the next bite lined up and ready to stuff into your mouth. Take breaks to drink water in-between your bites of food. The added water will also help you in feeling full.

Also, pay close attention to your diabetes meal plan. Are you getting enough food to meet your body’s needs? Are you going too long without eating? Most meal plans consist of three meals and two to three planned snacks. Check with our diabetes educator if you feel your meal plan does not meet your needs or if you don’t have one.

Goodbye Hunger, Hello Fiber
Overall, the best and easiest approach to curbing hunger with type-2 diabetes is eating foods that are high in fiber such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. Make sure to combine them with a small amount of lean protein and drink water throughout the day. Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day keeps your body fueled and feeling satisfied.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.