How to Deal with Hunger?
I go through phases with my appetite. Generally, it's fine but every other month or so, it goes completely out of whack. I am not the one to suppress my hunger but it gets really frustrating when you feel hungry ALL THE TIME. I generally know when my body is truly hungry vs. I am fake hungry and lately have been dealing with the latter so I wanted to share a few things that I have experienced while dealing with fake hunger. Fake hunger is when you are still hungry after a meal or a snack because either you did not eat a balanced meal, you are thirsty, or stressed/emotional/bored. I am one of those people who likes to eat meals around the same time but recently, my stomach is acting like a bottomless pit. Since I do not function well if I am hungry (and I don't want to keep feeding my bottomless pit), I have been using these tips to deal with hunger.
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast: This was a major downfall for me because since I have been trying to juice regularly in the morning, I was not getting enough fiber, protein, and fats which are all important to keep full longer and provide the fuel our body needs. I did rectify that by eating protein + carb combo such as scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes in the morning which helped tremendously.
- Eat only when hungry: While it is recommended to eat meals at a regular time, when my appetite is out of whack, I waited a little bit before grabbing lunch at 11:30 am sharp because that's what I normally do. Some days I was actually hungry but other times, I just wanted to eat.
- Emotional eating: It is a pretty well known fact that stress, boredom, and anxiety can lead to emotional eating. Everyone deals with it differently but when I am stressed, I lose my interest in cooking and eating in general but I tend to load up my week's worth of coffee in one sitting. I am sure we all have been through this rough road with eating our emotions and it's hard. I feel it's like a viscous cycle that's hard to break if not identified quick enough. Instead of reaching for food (or coffee in my case), divert your attention to less harmful things such as jog, drinking water, talking with friends/family members, watching tv etc.
- PMS and hunger: There are many theories about PMS and hunger such as a low progesterone and high estrogen levels generate a drop in blood sugar levels, which leads to sugar cravings. Serotonin (feel-good chemical) levels are generally lower during PMS and when levels are low we crave sugars and especially other carbohydrates like potato chips. That's because the body uses carbs to make serotonin. I tend to crave sweets and I usually give in because it's temporary. But if you struggle with it a lot, read this diet do's and don't to ease PMS.
- Exercise: It may sounds weird but exercise does help to curb hunger pangs. Studies have shown that exercise may lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite in the short term, while raising levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Also, I tend to eat healthier on days I exercise so either way exercise is a win-win situation.
Also remember that fake hunger does not go away right away or at least in my case, it did not instantly disappear. It took some self-awareness and implementing baby steps to control my hunger.
I would love to hear your thoughts on dealing with hunger...any other tips?