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Best Ways to Curb, Prevent, Avoid and Control Hunger When Dieting
If you are trying to lose weight, using a combination of dieting and exercise, you have to deal with hunger. If you generate a calorie deficit, that is you burn more calories than you consume in food calories, you will lose weight, but you will feel hungry and perhaps depressed.
Successful weight loss depends on finding ways to curb, prevent and control hunger so that it doesn't make you break your diet restrictions.
It is unfortunate that bouts of hunger are triggered after exercise, also the level of hormones that signal that you are full and satiated may decrease.
It may take an hour or more of hard work to burn 200 calories, but only five minutes to load the calories back into you bodies by eating some comfort food, or even some nuts or dried fruit.
So the key to losing weight is understanding your hunger and how to avoid it, control it, postpone it and stave it off.
This article provides a guide on hunger and many practical proven tips for curbing its impact.
Understanding Your Hunger
The key to keeping on-track for losing weight through dieting is to understand the relationship between food and hunger and the characteristics of hunger itself. This includes what triggers it, how long it lasts, what delays it and what can be used as a distraction. There are many known ways to reduce hunger such as drinking lost of water, eating lots of fiber, avoiding refined carbohydrates and avoiding feeling down or depressed so you grab some comfort food. Essentially these are delaying tactics, because as will be discussed below hanger pangs are relatively short lived. But there is nothing that absolutely gets rid of hunger when you are dieting. Some tips and suggestions do help but ultimately you have to get used to it. To twist an old expression: "There is no loss without pain". In some ways hunger is a dieter's friend - learn to embrace it.
Hunger is OK - There is nothing wrong with feeling hungry from time to time. Its not some critical emergency. People can survive starvation for weeks, feeling hungry intermittently over the entire period, provided they get adequate water. Hunger is just a signalling mechanism designed to encourage you to eat. You can learn to ignore these signals.
The hunger response is pretty dumb really. If you simply put something in your stomach the hunger pangs will be switched off. If you eat two cups of cheese or cashews, or even two cups of raw cabbage, your body can't really tell the difference. Of course the cabbage won't be as satisfying and your hunger will probably return quicker than if you ate cashews. The cabbage may only contain 20 calories compared with 900 for the cashews. So food substitution works. Also the cabbage has a lot of fiber and so it will remain in your stomach for longer, delaying the return of hunger. Raw cabbage leaves are a great appetite suppressant - try it sometime.
Types of Hunger
The first step is learning to recognise the different types of hunger and their causes.
Happy Achievement Hunger
Many people who workout believe that they can reward themselves by eating a snack after session - "Well I've Earned it,". Others see a snack as a way to have a break when some part of a major job has been completed. Rewards are fine, occasionally but they an become a habit and instantly undo all that hard work. The simple advice is to choose low calorie alternatives or only half the calories that you have burnt through the exercise. So if you burn 300 calories by walking, limit your snack to 150 calories. An eat something that will suppress your hunger for longer. Don't have a shake or a fruits smoothie which can be packed with calories and won't satisfy your hunger for very long. Instead have an apple or cheese and wholemeal crackers.
Denying food before a meal
Many people avoid consume calories before their workout session because it will reduce the impact of burning calories. But they consume a snack when they have finished. This is a mistake, eating something, such as a piece of fruit, a hand full of nuts or dried fruit before exercise may boost your energy during the workout, so you work harder.
Determined Resistance Hunger
Leaving your fuel supply depleted after a heavy workout is also a mistake. Eventually you will get very hungry and crave fatty foods or comfort foods. It is better to be in control and to have a high fiber snack after the workout which will delay the hunger.
Learn to Avoid your Triggers
Eating unhealthy snacks can be a habit. Similarly there are many regular triggers that create feeling of hunger that are also habits. So you can weaken old cravings and the things that trigger hunger pangs by breaking these habits. It takes time to make the switch but it can be done. If you decide to eat fruit as a snack, after a while you will start to crave fruit. If you take the back door away from the gym to avoid the snack food shop you will get used to it. You can adapt to the feelings of hunger and after a while you get used to them.
Eliminate your Temptation
Simply removing tempting snack foods from your home and by-passing the sections in the shopping centres with the cake shops and snack outlets works wonders.
Tips for Controlling Hunger
Eat a Few Nuts
Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 6 walnuts or 20 peanuts). Within 15-20 minutes this will dampen your hunger cravings.
Eat a Vitamin B tablet
If you regularly take Vitamin B tablets, delay popping the pill until you feeling hungry. It suppresses the appetite.
Try sipping a skinny latte instead of reaching for a snack bar. The warm richness of the coffee and the liquid can fill you up and distract you.
Deal with Your Stress and Anxiety without Eating
Stress and anxiety are major trigger for cravings. People eat to get comfort. Stress may exaggerate the feelings of being down and depressed. You need to break the habit of reaching out for a burger. You need to learn deep breathing exercises and other ways to relieve the stress. Going for a walk or a jog works very well especially at high intensity. Eat healthy foods with low calories and fat if you must eat
Avoid Being Tired
Cravings sneak up on you when you get tired. Take a nap and ensure you are getting enough sleep at night.
Use distractions as cravings are generally very short-lived
Hunger bouts and food cravings typically only last about 10 minutes, and so simply diverting your mind onto some other activity that covers this amount of time will delay the need to eat. Ring a friend, listen to music, go for a walk, meditate or simply do something else for a while.
Plan to avoid temptations
Vary your usual routine to avoid going past the bakery or pizza shop. This sounds simplistic but it does work.
Fill Up on Fiber, Snack on Fiber
Often the hunger pans develop more quickly if your generally diet is poor, especially eating foods rich in processed carbohydrate. If you eat fiber rich foods and bulky low calorie foods, they will take longer to be processed and you won't feel hungry as quickly.
Avoid the sense of deprivation
Sometimes keeping to a diet is hard because dieters adopt feelings that they have to deprive themselves of their favorite foods, or even that they need to punish themselves.This is a recipe for failure because it is so easy to say "why should I be deprived or what I love". Successful dieting requires a lifetime change of lifestyle and eating habits which is not about deprivation, but developing new 'likes'.
Eat Slow, Snack on things that take a long time to eat
It takes 15-20 minutes for your body to realise "Hey I'm Full". So it is very easy to overshoot and eat far more than what is needed to suppress the hunger pang. So the longer it takes to consume the food the better. Ovoid fast foods, choose 'slow' foods. Eating some celery and carrot sticks with some healthy dip takes a lot longer than downing a burger and shake, especially when you prepare the dip.
Stay Hydrated, drink water when you feel hungry
Drink lots of water, coffee, herbal tea, soda water and other healthy low calorie drinks all the time, and especially when you feel hungry. Some people eat because they are thirsty or eat because having a drink is associated with eating a snack are hungry. When hunger strikes, first drink some water. Remember that a bout of hunger usually only lasts 15-20 minutes. Drinking fills your stomach for longer than this and can delay the hunger pangs
Emergency hunger control foods
What are the best foods to have on had as emergency hunger killers
- Green Vegetables - This includes lettuce, cabbage, spinach bokchoy, and virtually another other leafy vegetables. Add to this tomatoes, celery, bell peppers and you have a healthy mini snack. Vegetables can be eaten rolled in a healthy wholemeal soft taco or bread.
- Instant Soy Protein Smoothie - Add soy milk to the blender, with one or two scoops of unsweetened soy protein powder, and 1/4 of a banana. You can add artificial sweeteners or a teaspoon of honey to replace the banana.
- Apples - Works wonders and relatively few calories. Apples are one of the few fruits that float in water, because they have low density, which means that have more bulk than many other fruits.
- Fiber tablets or supplements - This is not rocket science, nor do you have to spend your precious money on fancy meal replacements. Just buy the basic versions. These supplements swell in water and provide bulk in your stomach.
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson