Facts about hunger to help you get lean
I often hear women say how much they hate being hungry. Some actually experience fear around hunger.
When hunger is stressful in this way, you’ll look for relief – and the best relief is preventative.
Unfortunately preventing hunger means eating before you get hungry. In this way, you’ll never have to experience the feelings (physical or emotional) of hunger. When you eat this way to avoid hunger you end up consuming more energy than your body requires. Not only do you put on weight, you create a habit of overeating.
A fear of hunger
A fear of being hungry can be related to the physical sensations of hunger – you just don’t like that feeling of a growling stomach.
But in my experience, women struggling to lose weight usually have issues with their beliefs and emotional associations with hunger.
For example, many people associate being hungry with being deprived. No one likes to feel deprived so, if every time you feel a hunger pang (no matter how mild), you become overwhelmed with feelings of deprivation, you will stay alert for potential relief.
Eventually, you’ll work out that constant eating means never having to feel deprived. No wonder you find yourself thinking about food so much and feeling compelled to take action to get it!
And no wonder your clothes are getting tighter.
If you could learn to handle hunger – to respond to it in a different way – things would be different.
Here are three tips that will shift your perception and your experience of hunger. It’s time to stop hunger stealing the show!
1. Hunger is not always extreme
- “OMG, I’m starving!!!”
- “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!”
- “I’m famished; give me a huge helping please!”
Stop! Save comments like these for when you’ve been lost in the wilderness all day.
Dr Judith Beck, a cognitive therapy expert, makes the point that hunger and cravings are NOT emergencies. For those looking to shed excess kilos, Dr Beck says you can increase your tolerance to hunger.
She also says, the more often you stop yourself giving in to cravings, the fewer you’ll actually have! Now there’s an incentive! Cravings will also lose their intensity when you show them who’s the boss. More on this below.
2. Physical hunger sensations fluctuate
Intense hunger pangs aren’t fun but did you know that hunger pangs fluctuate in intensity?
Instead of panicking next time you feel hungry, observe those hunger sensations. Place your attention right on your belly area. Rate your hunger out of ten.
Next, tell yourself: I’ll eat soon but I’m fine to wait until I’ve finished this short task.
Check in 10 minutes later and re-rate your hunger. You’ll find it’s been absolutely okay to wait a while. Even better, you’ll find your hunger has subsided!
Was it really hunger?
Understand there is a difference between hunger and the desire eat.
How can you use this distinction to your advantage?
3. Building better tolerance to hunger
You can learn to tolerate hunger better. When you don’t respond immediately to hunger, you’ll discover that it comes and goes.
Perhaps you never learned that it’s okay to feel hungry! It is.
Perhaps you didn’t learn skills to help you endure hunger. You can learn some now. It’s never too late!
Some skills for handling hunger
- Create space between you and food. If you know that smelling or seeing certain foods leads to cravings, remove the food or remove yourself from the scene. You can go for a walk or excuse yourself and powder your nose. Pack up food and put it out of sight or throw it away. Decrease temptation.
- Distract yourself. Get busy! We’ve all experienced being absorbed in some task and forgetting to eat or at least being able to delay eating with relative ease. Create a short list of tasks to fit your trigger situations and get busy when you want to delay eating.
- Deliberately soothe yourself with a relaxation technique. This could be as simple as some focused deep breathing, doing a few simple stretches, watching something uplifting or using emotional freedom technique (a.k.a. EFT or tapping)
- Stay hydrated. There’s a theory that people sometimes mistake hunger for thirst. Fill up on some water or a nice warming herbal tea.
The effects of using these skills to handle hunger may only be temporary, however they always buy you time.
Remember, the aim is to not respond immediately. This gives you the time to check for genuine hunger and respond appropriately, in ways that are truly healthy.
Commit to getting better at withstanding hunger signals and you’ll see a difference in your weight loss results.
You can do this!