Curb Your Hunger with a Handful of Walnuts

It’s late afternoon. Maybe you’ve got a couple more hours at work, a long commute, or a crazy after-school schedule with kids. And you’re feeling a little tired, stressed, and hungry.

Maybe you’re even h-angry. And the only thing you can think about it getting something to eat. You’re looking for a way to calm your nerves, satisfy your appetite, and deal with everything on your to-do list for the rest of the day. 

  • Do you head to the vending machine, drop in a buck, and devour the first chocolate bar you can get your hands on?
  • Or do you reach for something else to satisfy your late-afternoon cravings without blowing your diet?

If you’ve picked option one, you’re not alone. A lot of people pick the candy bar when they’re tired, stressed, and hungry. But it’s loaded with sugar, empty calories, and unhealthy fat. Not exactly the kind of food you should be indulging in, if you’re trying to watch your weight.

If a candy bar isn’t the answer, what should you eat when you’re faced with a craving? Walnuts. Grab a handful. Munch and crunch. Or even add walnuts to a smoothie or a salad.

In a recent study, researchers found when people eat walnuts, it activates a specific area of the brain (called the right insula) where you make decisions about food.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers found that after eating walnuts, you’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re eating and make smarter food choices. And maybe more importantly, less likely to gobble a candy bar.

If you’re trying to watch your weight or even lose weight, it’s a no-brainer that sweet treats high in fat, sugar, and empty calories are going to sabotage your best efforts to tip the scale in the right direction.

But you need a contingency plan for the next hunger craving.

Instead of giving in and heading to the vending machine, your secret stash of candy, or the nearest dessert bar, plan ahead and keep some walnuts on hand. In the study, the people who ate some walnuts at least once a day for a week were more likely to make better food choices.

But you’ll need more than walnuts to stay healthy and achieve your ideal weight. The right foods in the right amount will help you, and you’ll find just what you need on the Portion Control menu.