Is your food making you hungry?

Sometimes what we eat can end up making us eat even more.

Is your diet actually making you hungrier and making you eat more? Ryan Carter / The National
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If you're struggling to resist second helpings at mealtimes and can?t leave the table without dessert, then the food you're eating could be making you even hungrier - rather than satisfying your hunger pangs. With statistics showing obesity on the rise, it's clear we're eating more than we used to, especially more processed foods. It seems counter-intuitive that with more food in the offering, we feel hungrier - with many people complaining that their appetites are the reasons why they cannot lose weight.

A recent study by Dr David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Centre, shines a light on why we have appetites that feel impossible to satisfy. Published in June in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study measured blood glucose levels and hunger while observing brain activity during the four-hour period after a meal - as this is the time frame that influences eating behaviour at the next meal.

The study fed 12 overweight men test meals of milkshakes with the same calories, taste and sweetness. The only difference was the glycemic index (GI) of the milkshakes; the first had a high glycemic index value while the other had a low one.

The study found that those consuming the high GI milkshake experienced a surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp crash four hours later, while those consuming the low GI milkshake experienced a much more stable blood sugar profile. This sudden increase and subsequent decrease in those taking the high GI milkshake was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of part of the brain involved in addictive behaviours.

The study concluded with Ludwig stating: "These findings suggest that limiting high glycemic index carbohydrates could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat."

White rice, white bread, potatoes and pasta are all high GI foods along with cakes, cookies and pastries. If you?re struggling to curb your appetite and want to feel a little lighter then cutting these foods from your diet will not only help your waistline, but will also help you to avoid overeating. This will mean your efforts will be rewarded as you find it increasingly easier to eat healthy foods.

* Laura Holland