Taming the Hunger Monster to Lose WeightOctober 5, 2020
Tame the Hunger Monster!
One of the common reasons why many people fail in their weight loss journey is this unstoppable feeling that will constantly pester its host until it is satisfied – hunger. When you try to skip a meal or lessen your portion sizes, this hunger turns into a monster that will demand to be satiated. The problem, however, is that the more you give in to it, the more it will show its ugly head and will keep tempting you to eat more, even if you’re not actually hungry.
Giving in to the hunger monster can sabotage your efforts for weight loss and weight maintenance. That’s why the best alternative is to tame this beast so you can control it.
The hunger monster has to work for you instead of against you. While this may seem like an incredible task, there are several strategies that you can adopt to achieve this.
Recognize What Triggers the Hunger Monster
Even when trying to lose weight, it is important to nourish your body with healthy meals. Keep in mind that taming the hunger monster does not mean that you have to stop eating and ignore being hungry altogether. If you haven’t eaten the entire day and you feel your stomach churning, then it’s just common sense that you have to have your meal. However, if you’ve just eaten a full meal and you’re suddenly craving to eat again after just a few minutes, then this is the hunger monster that you need to rein in.
If you’re feeling hungry all the time, the natural solution is to eat and satisfy this hunger even if you know that you’re already eating more than you should. The first step to finding a solution to this problem is by recognizing what triggers this hunger because a lot of times, you feel “hungry” not because you need food. Instead, you eat to cope with other external issues.
Are you always hungry when you’re stressed out? When you’re emotional? Bored? After drinking copious amounts of alcohol? Knowing these triggers will help you avoid these situations and when you feel hungry, you’ll know that it’s not really because you need to eat asap.
Pause and Be Mindful
The hunger monster often disguises itself as an irresistible craving that just won’t go away. Suddenly craving a donut mid-morning? Or maybe a chocolate bar in the middle of the afternoon? It may seem like not giving in is impossible.
Here’s a secret: whether you like it or not, that craving will pass. The trick is to learn to hold off that craving for at least 10 to 15 minutes so it will start fading.
How Can You Hold Off a Craving?
- The first trick is to pause and ask yourself if you really need to eat that donut or have that ice cream. Questioning yourself is a great exercise so you can slow down and not give in to an impulse.
- The second method is by distracting yourself with another activity. If you’re craving something sweet or unhealthy, go for a brisk walk. Burn calories instead of consuming them. Not only will this distract you from your craving, but this will also give you a flush of energy.
You can also try to have a drink of water instead of reaching for that snack. A lot of times, thirst is often mistaken for hunger. This means you are not actually hungry and your body is just dehydrated so you need to drink. When choosing a drink, water is still the best option. Try to avoid drinks with lots of hidden sugar like iced coffee drinks, fruit juices, and soda.
If you’re stressed out or emotional, don’t automatically use food to cope. Look for another pleasurable or relaxing activity like a spa massage, aromatherapy, or a long bubble bath. Pleasure your other senses, not just your sense of taste.
When you’re already eating, you can also apply this tip by taking your time. Don’t chase after every bite, instead, pause before eating and savor every single taste of what you’re eating. Chances are, after a couple of bites, your craving will already pass.
Choosing What You Eat
When you eat unhealthy food overloaded with sugar, salt, and fat – the hunger monster will become uncontrollable. These kinds of food are often referred to as “danger foods” because they overwhelm your taste buds. This is the reason why you can’t stop snacking on cookies and potato chips. This is also the reason why you can’t help but get that salted caramel brownie. When the hunger monster gets a taste, it will be difficult to control it from wanting more.
One key to taming the hunger monster is by continuously feeding it with the right types of food.
You should skip the snacks and junk food. Grazing and snacking will cause havoc to your appetite and will just make you keep eating unnecessarily.
Instead of these sugary and high-carb foods, go for healthier foods that do not overstimulate your hunger monster. Examples are:
- High protein foods
- Non starchy vegetables
- Fiber-rich foods
- Complex carbohydrates.
Eating this will keep you feel satiated and will also keep the hunger monster happy until the next meal.
Protein and vegetables also require you to chew more which can help you avoid overeating. This is because when you chew more, you eat more slowly allowing you to recognize your hunger cues and stop when you’re not hungry anymore.
What could be helpful is :
- Making a shopping checklist for healthy items.
- When you have a list, make sure to stick to it.
- Avoid the aisles with unhealthy items altogether.
- Shop on a full stomach
When your pantry and fridge are filled with healthy choices, this makes it easier for you to not be tempted.
Control Don’t Fear
When you feel hunger pangs, but you know very well that it’s not time to eat yet, don’t be afraid of it. Control yourself from immediately giving this hunger the satisfaction.
These pangs of hunger often appear at the beginning of your weight loss journey, but once you gain control over your body and start to follow a healthy diet routine, they will start to fade away. Using the above strategies will help you be the boss of your own body.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSameera Khan, RD, PA-C, is an obesity expert dietitian and nutritionist, best-selling author, and podcaster. She is the owner of Lowkcalgal LLC, a long-term weight loss concept that actually works where others have failed. She has spent two decades working with clients and their families helping them lose weight together. She is the author of the bestselling book, “Regain Be Gone” - that has 12 strategies on regaining your life back after bariatric surgery.