Constant hunger can become a major distraction when you’re trying to lose weight whether you’re facing nagging cravings or extreme discomfort that makes it difficult to think clearly.
Dr. Angela Fitch, associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center affirms: “Hunger is one of the main reasons people have trouble losing weight and maintaining weight loss,”. The doctor explains that when you eat less, your body slows your metabolism (making it harder to shed pounds) and also makes you feel hungrier (by tweaking levels of ghrelin and leptin, hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and fullness).
While some level of hunger is natural and normal when you’re trying to lose weight, there are a few ways you can lessen the burden if sticking with your calorie goal has been a challenge.
Drink a lot of water & low calories drinks
Dr. Robert Kushner, medical director of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago says:“As it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger (especially when you’re already hungrier than usual) and water can help you feel fuller, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day,”.
Stock up on calorie-free drinks you enjoy like fruit-infused water, sparkling water or tea — and keep them within reach with a water bottle or thermos.
Start consuming soup
Have a cup of soup as a starter for your lunch or dinner. It is a simple, but effective strategy. soup can make for a helpful and affordable staple when it comes to dialing down diet-induced hunger and it is flavorful, aromatic and filling thanks to water and fiber-rich veggies.
One study by nutrition researchers at Penn State found out that people who had a low-calorie soup before their meal ended up eating about 20% less calories than those who didn’t.
Consume high-volume foods
One way to quiet hunger bells is to eat high-volume, high-fiber foods throughout the day if three square meals regularly set you up for late-night munchies. Shena Jaramillo, RD advises: “Ditch the idea that you only need breakfast, lunch and dinner, and honor your hunger by always having nutrient-dense, low-calorie food choices on hand,”.
Start your meals with a few handfuls of leafy greens for a salad, fill up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, green beans and asparagus, and schedule snacks that include vegetables like baby tomatoes, cucumbers, radish and celery; fruits like watermelon, grapefruit, berries; and whole grains like popcorn and oatmeal. Boost the volume and fiber, and you’ll feel fuller and have an easier time sticking with your overall calorie goal.
Eating slower makes for a great strategy to dial down your hunger signals and avoid overeating if you’re used to chowing down until you’re uncomfortably full. Dr. Fitch adds: “It takes time for your stomach to feel that you are full and send a signal to your brain that then sends a signal back to your stomach to slow down the emptying and make you feel fuller,”. As such, you need to give your body time to register that you’re full.
Dr. Fitch also suggests us to minimize distractions like the TV and your phone, and talk with people or put your fork down between bites. Mindful eating practices (like savoring every taste and even doing a brief meditation before you sit down) can also help. Then, when you’re finished eating, leave a 20-minute window to allow your satiating hormones to do their work before you ask yourself if you’re actually hungry for seconds, she says.