When I was 10 years old, I dreamed of being the best drummer in the world. Day in, day out, I’d watch videos, listen to albums, and read magazines featuring the current and past best players. How did they practice, what bands did they play for, what made them so great? I sucked up any info I could that brought me closer to my goal of being the best. By 13 years old, I knew I’d never be the top dog. By 17, I knew it would never matter. Eventually, I learned that good enough was, well, good enough.
After years of trying, I realised that wishing for something that was never going to come true was nothing but a waste of energy. I see this with diets all the time. People scour the internet looking for the “perfect” way to lose weight. The diet with zero hunger, non-existent cravings, and no calorie counting or restriction. The search for dieting nirvana is a waste of your time.
A much better practice with any fat loss diet is to focus on what we can control, rather than what we can’t. Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight in before now knows that increased hunger is a fact life. That doesn’t mean to say that it can’t be kept in check with a few useful strategies. Here are 6 ways to manage hunger on a diet.
Let’s start with a big picture topic. I can’t remember the number of times a new client who was doing great previously has started to struggle due to lack of sleep.
- Poor sleep impacts hunger by disrupting hormones associated with appetite.
- A study by Nedeltcheva found that people who got 5.5 hours of sleep ate more snacks and consumed more calories compared to people getting 8.5 hours sleep.
- The people getting less sleep were also more likely to go for higher sugar snacks than the lucky folks who got to stay in bed longer.
You know if you’re not sleeping enough, and you don’t need a lecture from me on how to get more, but be sure to take it seriously. The difference in hunger when you’re tired compared to rested is enough to make sleep a top priority.
2# Food Environment
Physical hunger is only one of the many reasons we eat food, and a lot of these reasons are out of our control. For instance, if you make poorer food choices when you feel down, focusing on simply trying to cheer yourself up is likely to have little impact. Where you can make a difference is your food environment.
- Research shows that the nearer you are to a food, the more likely you are to eat it
- In a study from earlier this year, even small differences in how far away snacks are placed can make a significant difference in how much of the snack food people eat.
At work, having a desk full of sweets, or a snack drawer makes resisting the temptation to snack on calorie-laden goodies almost impossible.
- While it might sound boring, replacing something like M&Ms with raw carrots will save you a tonne of calories if you get the urge to snack. Ever tried eating three raw carrots in a go? I thought not.
- If you’re hot desking, stay as far as you can from a vending machine.
At home, if you have the option, remove the treats from anywhere that’s easily accessible- distance and barriers give you more time to decide if it’s m and ms you want or just something to do. If you don’t have the ice cream you’re currently craving in the freezer, you’re way less likely to actually go out to buy some. You’ll notice that hunger will pass a lot easier when you don’t have the foods to hand, but if the nibbles you crave are right there staring you in the face, giving in to a craving is much easier to do.
3# Avoid Trigger Foods
Do you know what I want to eat after scoffing down a 400 calorie pain au raisin? Another 10,000 pain au raisins, that’s what. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for flexibility where food choice is concerned, and one of the things I try to get my clients to understand is that no foods are off limits. However, if I ate exactly what I wanted all of the time, I would definitely never see my abs again.
Knowing when to treat yourself, and when to have something a bit plainer is a great way to keep hunger at bay. My fat loss efforts go a lot easier when I choose potatoes over pasta or white bread for example. For the duration of my diet, I’m happy to only cut my indulgences down a bit for a few weeks if it helps me stick to the plan better.
4# Eat As Much As You Can
If you’re cutting hard and insist on eating tiny amounts of high-calorie foods, you will lose. My friend Bee absolutely smashed her diet, and while she made room for brownies, burgers, and Prosecco, she also ate highly filling veggies almost exclusively when she was on really low calories at the start of the week. Keep it simple, and at least attempt to fill yourself up.
5# Stay Away From The Buffet
Ever been out to a restaurant and eaten a steak until you feel completely stuffed, but suddenly found room for dessert? This is known as ‘sensory-specific satiety’ and is the reason you can still manage some Christmas pudding after gorging on turkey.
- The more varieties of foods you have available during a meal, the more food you’ll eat
- Adding a food as a later addition to a meal has been shown to delay feelings of fullness
Planning simple meals ahead of time is a great way to control hunger while having a starter and main with similar flavours and skipping dessert is an easy way to consume fewer calories when you’re eating out.
6# Drink Water
This tip may be the simplest of the bunch but it works. Right before you eat a meal, drinking half, to a full litre of water first has been shown to significantly reduce the number of calories you eat during the meal. Fizzy water or diet soda work even better as the bubbles actually fill you up.
Although hunger is a natural part of the weight loss process, losing fat doesn’t mean you have to feel starving all the time. If you manage your sleep, consider your food environment, and adapt your diet, you can make the whole process of getting leaner easier.
Want to lose weight while still going out to eat the foods you love? Get the eat out stay lean system and never worry about eating out again.