I've tried dieting, but I always get hungry and end up snacking. Do you have any advice?

I’ve tried dieting, but I always get hungry and end up snacking. Do you have any advice?

Michael Roizen, M.D.

Michael Roizen, M.D.

As chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Michael F. Roizen, MD, is on a mission to inform... Read more

When you go for long periods of time without eating or consuming too few calories, your brain senses the starvation and sends an SOS signal throughout your body to actually store fat, not burn it. The next thing you know, you’re inhaling a bag of Dipsy Doodles and kicking yourself for not having more willpower. But these snackfests aren’t really your fault, because this type of deprivation diet sets you up for failure and overeating from the get-go. To avoid getting hungry, you need to diet smart, not hard. That means eating three main meals and a morning and afternoon snack so you never go more than three hours without food. (But don’t eat within three hours of bedtime to avoid heartburn.) And keep a food journal so you get a reality check on just how much you’re eating. You’ll also want to figure out how many calories you can eat to reach your ideal weight. A simple way to figure this out: Multiply your desired weight in pounds by 8 and add 200. And then factor in calories burned by physical activity. Starting your day with a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast is also one of the keys to avoiding hunger in the afternoon and the ensuing snack attack. Protein decreases appetite and fiber keeps you feeling full longer, which is a win-win. Two of my favorite breakfast options:

•Steel-cut oatmeal with four ounces of skim or soymilk and a fistful of your favorite fruit.

•An egg-white omelet (three egg whites and 1 whole egg) with mixed veggies (use a canola oil spray, not butter).

Lunch and dinner should consist primarily of lean protein (think fish, turkey or veggie burgers) and lots of vegetables. Another great way to avoid a mindless, all-out snackfest on high-fat, high-calorie overprocessed foods is to always have a few go-to healthy snacks on hand. The ideal snack will satisfy your hunger while pleasing your palate and your waistline. A half ounce of raw nuts with a piece of fruit or a banana or a cup of berries is super because you get some crunch and something sweet. Nuts are also loaded with good-for-you omega-3 and omega-9 fats, which in addition to helping your heart and brain health, also increase chemicals that help you feel satiated longer. Another benefit is that nuts and a banana are portable. If you can’t eat nuts and you’ve got access to a microwave, warm up a cup of sautéed veggies and stuff them into a small whole-wheat pita. Yum! You can also try one of these 15 healthy snack ideas for at home and on the go from 360-5.com.