There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to lose weight than that feeling of being hungry all the time. If you follow a traditional diet, you will feel hungry before every meal and often a short time after it.
And the suggested low-calorie, low-fat or low-carb snacks (or whatever it is you’re allowed to have) are often not much of a comfort. It seems like you need to know how to curb hunger pangs before you can succeed at losing weight.
Worse, it seems that other thinner people seem to get along fine without being hungry or eating all the time. How come they don’t get painful hunger pangs? Is it all in your mind? Are you just greedy?
Well, no, that’s not the case. There’s actually a hormone called ghrelin (pronounced grelin) which rises in level when you’re hungry and drops when you’re full and causes hunger pangs. I imagine this hormone as a little monster like a dragon that growls when it needs feeding 🙂
Here are 10 ways to keep the beast quiet and stop hunger pangs in their tracks.
When you are feeling stressed, your body burns up essential nutrients, particularly B vitamins. This can lead to you feeling ravenous as your body fights to replace them. (If you’ve ever wondered why you crave a Snickers bar when you’re feeling fraught then blame the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline).
Learning to deal with stress before it gets the better of you can make all the difference to how hungry you get (and how much unhealthy snack food you grab). Even just taking a few deep breaths and a calming glass of water can help quell sudden hunger pangs. See also “Instant Calm with 60 Second Relaxation” for an easy calming technique that will help.
Don’t Blend or Mash Food
Blending or mashing your food means that you don’t get the same satisfaction from eating it as you do when you have to chew. All the work is done for you and it will be digested much more quickly too leaving you hungry sooner. So don’t puree your vegetables and eat whole fruit with yogurt rather than blending them into a smoothie.
Leave the Peel on Fruit and Vegetables
The rule should be, if the skin is edible leave it on, whenever you are eating fruit and vegetables. You get more indigestible fiber that way that helps to fill you up for longer without adding calories.
Choose Complex Grains
An oldie but goodie. If you’re going to eat carbs make them complex! Eat everything brown and wholemeal. The fiber in brown pasta, bread and rice will help to fill you up.
Also one of the main causes of hunger pangs is a sudden reduction in blood sugar. Your brain demands that you feed it whenever blood sugar drops to uncomfortable levels.
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These sudden drops are common with non-complex carbohydrates found in the white versions of foods as these foods cause a spike in the release of insulin to cope with the quick release of sugar into the bloodstream. Insulin has the job of getting rid of the overload of sugar fast but your brain only registers the sudden drop.
Reduce sugar cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels more evenly balanced with whole foods which are slower to digest and release sugar.
The combination of food and liquid in soup keeps you fuller a lot longer than the same food eaten dry with a glass of water. Psychologically, it is a more satisfying meal and it means a larger volume of food physically enters your intestines at the same time, activating fullness signals. Plus it is easy to make soup fit into any diet you are following. To have the best effect serve a chunky soup for a satisfying meal without peeling those vegetables to follow habits 2 and 3 for a triple whammy!
Use The Power of Protein
The reason that the Atkins Diet is so successful is that high levels of protein are particularly good at keeping the ghrelin hunger hormone at bay. If you don’t want to follow a high protein diet, ensure that you include some low fat protein with your meals and snacks to make them more satisfying for longer.
Don’t Ditch Fat
Fat was the public enemy number one before carbs took on the role and we ate low fat everything for a good twenty years or more before we discovered we weren’t getting any thinner from it. In fact a little good fat is essential for the healthy working of the body. Fat and oil help the body register fullness and make our food tastier and more psychologically satisfying so include some healthy fat in your meals.
Yoga exercises should only be done on an empty stomach otherwise you are likely to feel nauseous. When the first mild hunger pangs start is the ideal time to schedule in a yoga session and it is an ideal way to stop hunger without eating.
Of course, this is only useful if you are able to drop everything to do your exercise. It works for me as I work from home but if you work in an office, try scheduling a lunchtime class for this time or just take a walk before your lunch to take your mind off and fight hunger pangs for a bit longer.
Establish a Later Lunch Break
The hunger beast ghrelin responds to habit, so if you are used to eating lunch every day at noon, that’s when you will get hungry. Try changing your lunch time to a little later each day until you are used to eating at 1:30. That will help you keep going until dinner without a fattening snack.
If you are really involved in what you are doing, you can forget to eat. Don’t believe me? You have never been really absorbed in a task. When you are “in the zone” with an activity you are so focused on it that nothing else takes your attention. Try scheduling your most interesting tasks to start just before the time you would normally be hungry to stop yourself thinking about food too soon.