Beating Hunger

This is something I wrote up for my weight loss group and wanted to share. Over the last two years I’ve lost 100 pounds in total. I gained a bit back over the holidays but the fact remains that I started at 245 pounds and am sitting here right now at 155 pounds, at 5’3.” I’m in my forties, I’m not an athlete, and I work a sedentary job. If I can do it, a lot of other people can. The tips I’m including below worked for me. So if you’re looking to improve your health, they might help you too!

Hunger is the enemy of pretty much every person trying to lose weight. It’s so much easier to stay in a calorie deficit if a person isn’t hungry all the time! It can also be pretty hard to avoid. After all, our bodies don’t wan tto think we’re starving to death. Here are the best tips that have helped me the most so far.

We all know about eating slowly, chewing our food, etc, but hopefully these will go into a bit better detail.

Identify your trigger foods

I’ve learned there are some things that if I start eating them, I don’t want to stop. Other foods are so delicious that I will convince myself I’m hungry just so I can eat them. Still other foods don’t satisfy and can even make you feel hungrier! It’s good to stay away with that sort of thing and if at all possible, keep them out of the house entirely. If they can’t be kept out of the house, at least make them hard to get to.

Say a family member just HAS to have their cookies. And those same cookies are your favorite kind. Putting their name on the bag and asking that family member to keep them in their desk/bag/car/whatever would be good here. Out of sight, out of mind. Or, maybe ask yourself, why is it so important that they have their food even though it’s endangering your health? Maybe a compromose can be found.

Identify satiating foods – for you

Some foods make us feel a lot fuller than their calorie content might suggest. Oatmeal with low calorie toppings for example. It’s warm, it’s bulky, and can be very flavorful depending on what you do with it. Soups can be in this category, so can wraps with massive amounts of leafy greats, protein filled foods, and more. There are tons of lists like this around, the point is to think about what satisfies YOU. Then have more of those foods.

Personal example: I love Built bars. They have good macros, good ingedients, and they taste AMAZING. They are fairly low in calories too. However I’m taking a break from them because they don’t satisfy me at all even though they should. A simple meat stick is more satisfying for me, or maybe a bunch of string beans and a small piece of cheese, or an apple, or whatever. So I’m taking a break because for me, they aren’t satiating and they encourage me to eat.

Think about the order you eat them in

Sometimes hunger can be beaten by just altering the order you have different foods again. For example, if I start my day with some hot tea with caffiene, then have protein with my breakfast, I will be full a lot longer than if I had a bowl of cereal. I’ll also avoid a lot of problems with blood sugar spikes and crashes if I avoid sugar in the mornings, even if I might have sugar at another point in the day. It doesn’t have to be fancy, for example I might have a couple hard boiled eggs or a meat stick, or even a simple protein bar, if I’m too busy for something else.

Choose nutritious foods

In general, the more nutrition your food has the more satiating it will be. If your body isn’t getting the things it needs, it’ll set up cravings till it gets everything. For instance, what if you keep craving cheese? You might be low on calcium, protein, or fat. What if you are craving sour things? You might need more vitamin C. Craving savory things usually means you need more protein as well. In general, if you have two snack choices, picking the one with fewer empty calories will be best – 100 calories worth of apples will stay with you longer than 100 calories worth of cookies.

Drink enough water

We all know this but it bears repeating – drink liquids. It doesn’t have to be water, but water is great. Tea, coffee, soups, non sugar sodas, and more. They all add up. Some say caffeine dries you out – yes, it can do that, but the water still partially counts because your body gets used to the caffeine to some degree. Water helps fill you up.

Get enough fiber

Yes, fiber fills you up. Try to get it from natural sources if you can. Why? Because a couple of fiber gummies might contain fifty calories and a bunch of sugar, while fifty calories can get you lots of cooked or raw veggies. Again, more satiating.

Get enough sleep!

If you don’t sleep enough, your hunger hormones are activated. If you do sleep but it’s poor quality, same thing. Take a look around at ways you can improve your sleep if at all possible, it’ll help a ton in recovery and in controlling hunger. It also improves memory, healing, and a lot of other things. Did you know for example that our brains are at times MORE active during sleep then when awake? It’s when we do a lot of sorting and filing of information we took in during the day. Not only that, but there was a study done where two groups of people were put on diets. One group was deprived of sleep an hour each night though they were allowed to catch up on weekends, the other group got their full amount of sleep. At the end of the study the two groups had lost roughly the same amount of weight but the people who slept properly lost a lot more fat, while the ones who slept poorly lost some muscle along with the fat.

Stay occupied

Boredom eating is definitely a thing, I still do it sometimes. I try to save some healthy but filling snacks for when I just want to nibble. Popcorn with low calorie toppings, cut up vegetables, sugar free mints, gum, herbal tea, that sort of thing. Sometimes you just want flavor and there are tons of ways to get that without adding calories. But having something to do so you aren’t bored is even better. Hey, light exercise is good too!

Forgive yourself

This part can be the toughest tip of all to follow but it might be the most important. A wise friend recently said that a big part of dieting is between your ears.

Sometimes mood can affect hunger greatly. There may even be other factors like hormonal influences, stress, and more. However, and this is something I constantly have to tell myself, blaming yourself won’t help at all. It may feel like you’re enforcing god behavior by holding yourself accountable but it backfires. Better to take by responsibility instead and be kind with yourself. Kind doesn’t mean lenient, but it is a lot healthier than blaming.

The best way to handle a lapse in judgement, or a binge, or simply having way more calories than you had planned…. “what? A serving was 1/12 of a box not a box?” is this:

  1. Recognize what happened
  2. Figure out why it happened
  3. Forgive yourself, and plan what you are going to do differently next time
  4. Do it differently next time.

If you don’t, or you forget, go back to step one and repeat. Figure out why you weren’t able to do whatever it was differently. Try something else. Life is an experiment. It can be really hard to remember, but maintaining an attitude of curiosity can be a great tool when it comes to dealing with lapses and mistakes.

So – no self hating allowed. No nasty self talk. No backbiting. If you wouldn’t talk to your best friend that way, don’t talk to yourself that way either. It can be hard, you’ll forget. I forget all the time. But that just means – go back to step one.

I hope some of these tips were helpful. If you have some of your own that I didn’t cover, feel free to comment! We all have our own journey, and it’s essential to figure out what’s best for us.

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