Hunger is a common issue for many dieters and a point in which a lot can struggle. Another difficult point is weight loss motivation. Both these issues in combination can make dieting to look like mission impossible. So what can you do and/or eat to overcome these difficulties.
I am 37 years old I am 60lbs overweight and I have no drive what so ever. I am trying to put myself on a diet but I get very hungry mid way thru the day to wear I get shaky and feel sick. I eat a breakfast and have fruit for snack but I am constantly hungry. What can I eat that will keep be not feeling hungry?
I have looked at some of these issues in previous articles so for some points I will only give a brief outline.
- Breakfast is quite an important meal for the day. If you start your day in the wrong foot you will spend all day chasing your feet to get in line. What does that mean in terms of diet and hunger? As I have mentioned before if you have a breakfast full of carbohydrates results in your insulin levels to hit the roof very fast. When all sugar has been absorbed from your blood insulin falls again and your body receives the signal that you need food. The result: you feel hungry, shaky, sick, irritable and so on.
The solution is to eat protein for breakfast. Protein can make you feel full for longer and you have a better insulin response.
- Snacks: If you have to have a snack, again aim for a protein based one or a handful of nuts. Studies suggest that nuts tend to make you feel full and they are also a good source of essential fats. But they are quite calorie dense so keep it to a handful.
- Best carry snacks such as nuts in your bag or have them handy. If you are out and you start feeling hungry you are more likely to get just anything you can find. In addition, the longer you let yourself be hungry the worst you are going to feel. As a result you will again end up eating anything and everything under the sun to satisfy your hunger.
- There is also what they call the ‘emotional’ hunger. The solution for this is trying to modify your behavior and relationship towards food. One of the main ways is try to associate your feelings with other activities rather than food. See also emotional eating
- One area which I haven’t mentioned so far is actually the physiological aspects of being overweight. Adipose tissue (fat) is actually seen by many researches as biologically active and it produces hormones. Many of these are involved in metabolic regulations such as food intake and energy expenditure. One such hormone produced by adipose tissue, is leptin which is believed to be involved in food intake regulation. In simple words one of the jobs of leptin is to make you feel less hungry. Majority of overweight and obese people have high levels of leptin however; they tend to also have leptin resistance which means that they are less reactive to the effects of leptin.
What does that mean in very simple words is that they feel hungry and find it hard to regulate their appetite. Food restriction also can result in levels of leptin to decrease which again wouldn’t help.
In many ways this one of the reasons why many overweight people may find it hard to control hunger and follow diets. Some studies suggest that a low fat diet may help in improving leptin resistance. Do make sure that you do eat essential fats such as olive oil, fish oils etc. but maybe substitute foods high in fat with those with less fat content. I prefer to recommend not choosing low fat versions such as low fat mayonnaise, but choose foods which normally contain less fat (i.e. cottage cheese instead of yellow cheese, lean cuts of meat instead of just eating chicken etc.).
- Use some of the tips which I have included in my article in regards to emotional eating (‘How to control your desire for food’. Tips such as doing others activities or eating smaller portion can help in controlling hunger in general.
- Persevere. Unless the reason why you could be feeling hungry is based on a different health complain, losing weight should improve things like insulin and leptin sensitivity. So hunger can improve. It is a little bit like the chicken and egg predicament; you need a chicken to make the egg but you need an egg to produce the chicken. However, this does not mean that there is no solution. Following a healthy, low fat but balanced diet and cutting down moderately on calories should help. It may be hard to begin with but if you make a list of things you can do to battle hunger and cravings then it is already made easier.
- Exercise is one more thing you can add. Exercise does help in weight loss as it does increase metabolism in general and also you burn more calories with exercise (see ‘10 Fitness Tips for Women for more details). Some studies also indicate that exercise per se can help in improving insulin and leptin regulation, amongst other health benefits.
- Consult a medical professional. As I mentioned above there may be other health reasons why you may feel hungry or have symptoms such as feeling shaky, dizzy, and sick. One such reason could be thyroid dysfunction. However, this is up to a medical professional to carry out the appropriate assessment and tests and include or exclude any other problems. In addition, is always recommended that you consult a medical professional before going on a diet or taking on exercise.
- Finally, work on your motivation. One point to start from is by actually making a list of why you want to lose weight. Going on a diet because is what you should be doing and going on a diet because you want to and you know why are 2 different things. Find the reasons why losing weight is important to you and why it means a lot to you.
Once you have the list ready place a copy on your wallet, and one on the fridge. When you feel you lose the will to continue look at your list and remind yourself why you are doing it.
- Get a diet buddy or join a club. Studies show that diet clubs can have a high rate of achieving weight loss. This is not because they actually use a more effective diet, but because they have support systems which help people in adhering to dieting and losing weight. Your diet buddy could well be a spouse or your partner. Support coming from the family is as important, effective and valuable as weight watchers.
- Set goals and reward yourself. Set weekly goals based preferably on diet adherence not on pounds lost. Best not reward yourself with food though as it could be creating emotional connections. Example could be that if you manage to follow your diet plan all week (fortnightly or monthly etc.) you will go for a massage, a manicure etc. Set your little rewards according to what you enjoy. See your rewards as saying well done you achieved something, instead of buying yourself out.