You eat because you are hungry and stop when you feel full. Right?
At least that’s how it is supposed to work. If you are like me, part of your weight problem stems from the fact you eat when you are both hungry and not and don’t always stop when you’re full. The uncomfortable feeling of hunger is part of dieting, but it doesn’t have to trip you up.
Some people say that you shouldn’t feel hungry when dieting. I agree with that statement to some extent. But there is a reality here that is sometimes ignored. If you are accustomed to eating 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day as I was, cutting back to 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day is going to leave a void. You are going to be hungry sometimes and that’s okay.
What’s not okay is feeling hungry all the time or experiencing extreme hunger. That’s where these tips come in. If you are smart about when and what you eat, you can limit that hungry feeling that sometimes causes you to overeat.
1. Eat Regularly
Your body sends you strong hunger signals when it feels hunger. If you eat regularly, you give your body food before those hunger signals get strong. Space your calorie allotment out. If you are sticking to 1,400 calories a day, set aside 300 calories for snacks and the rest for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
2. Choose Wisely
Technically weight loss can occur no matter what you eat as long as you eat fewer calories than you need. However, some foods like candy or donuts, leave you hungry while others fill you up. Choose your foods wisely. Include the following fill-er-up foods in your diet:
- Whey protein powder (one scoop a day)
- Lean meats
- High fiber foods
3. Use Zero-Calorie Distractions
Try some of these zero-calorie distraction techniques to help you avoid focusing on food. I used these when I knew it wasn’t quite time to eat or when I wanted to eat from emotion rather than true hunger.
Chew Gum – It’s impossible to eat when you have gum in your mouth. Believe me I know. I’ve tried it.
Stay Busy – Keep your mind and hands occupied with something challenging like games, puzzles, work, or crafts. Time passes quickly and it will be time to eat before you know it.
Get Away From Food – If you are at home a lot, you need to get away from the kitchen. Take a walk, run an errand, or move to another part of the house. Standing in the kitchen often triggers hunger. If you are away from home, move away from areas where food is located, such as office break rooms and food displays at social events.
Brush Your Teeth – Food tastes weird right after your brush your teeth. Have you ever had a swallow of orange juice right after brushing your teeth? Then you know what I mean. Brush your teeth right after eating and let that minty feeling remind you that you are done eating for the time being.
4. Slow Down
Eating quickly is one of my personal downfalls. I still tend to eat fast, but I learned to slow down when I was losing weight. Slow down by chewing your food thoroughly, putting your fork down between bites, and participating in table conversations flowing around you. When you eat more slowly you give your stomach a chance to signal to your brain that you are feeling full.
5. Manage Stress
Hunger is a powerful feeling. However, there are times when you feel hungry because of stress instead of a true need for food. Use relaxation techniques to manage your stress, exercise regularly, and consider talking with a therapist who specializes in stress management.
Once I got my stress under control, I found that I felt hungry less often. It made a tremendous difference in my life and my health.