One of the hardest parts of dieting is having to deal with hunger. When you are in a calorie deficit, it is normal to feel a little bit hungry from time to time but there are a lot of things you can do to help manage it.
Check out some of our top tips below to help you deal with hunger.
1.) Increase your daily fruit and vegetable intake.
Filling up on low calorie, high volume foods such as fruit and vegetables can be a great way of keeping hunger at bay! Food volume is your best friend on a diet so fill your plate up with some extra veg!
By eating big portions of fruit and veg, you are tricking your body into thinking you are eating more calories.
Some low calorie fruit and vegetable options include peppers, mushrooms, courgette, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon and so on.
You can also use vegetables as a swap for carb sources to reduce overall calorie intake or to bulk up portions so you feel like you are eating more. For example, mixing a serving of cauliflower rice in with a serving of normal rice to give you double the portion for very few extra calories. Another good example is spiralizing a vegetable such as courgette in place of noodles/spaghetti.
By including extra fruit and vegetables in your diet, it will also help ensure you are getting enough micro-nutrients. Aim for at least five servings per day and try to get a good variety of colours/types.
2.) Slow down when you are eating.
Your appetite is mainly controlled by hormones. These hormones pass messages to your brain letting it know when you have eaten food. It takes about 20 minutes so give your brain the time it needs to receive these signals.
Take your time, sit down, relax and enjoy your food! Chew your food thoroughly and take breaks between bites. Eating in a rush can cause digestion problems and your body won’t get enough time to let you know when it feels full.
Eating slowly has been shown to decrease the amount of overall calories consumed at a meal. Other benefits of eating slower include improved digestion, increased enjoyment of food and reduced stress.
If you find you are eating too quickly
- Turn off distractions – no phone or TV while eating.
- Drink lots of water between bites.
- Avoid letting yourself get to hungry between meals as it is hard to slow down if you are starving.
- Take breaks between bites and put your utensils down.
3.) Keep hydrated.
Water is something we all know is important but sometimes people underestimate how important it actually is. Your body can confuse thirst for hunger so if you are constantly feeling hungry, have a look at your water intake.
You need to be drinking at least 2-3 litres per day. If you are even slightly dehydrated, cravings can be higher as well – sugar in particular.
Next time you are feeling hungry, drink a large glass of water and wait 20 minutes. It really does help subside hunger so give it a try next time!!
Also drinking a large glass of water before each meal can help you get a more full feeling from the food.
4.) Limit snacking.
If you find that you are always hungry, another tip is to eat larger meals rather than small meals/snacks.
Snacking doesn’t give you that full, satiated feeling like when you eat a big meal. Your brain never gets the signal from your stomach that you are full so it can be a waste of calories.
Snacking can sometimes actually make you feel hungrier!
For example, you eat a starter in a restaurant. You usually feel hungrier after it. That’s why it is called an appetizer, it makes you want more food.
If you are currently eating say 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, why not try making those two snacks into one larger meal?
5.) Stay productive.
A lot of the time, people can find that they might just eat out of boredom! Nothing to do so just opening the fridge every five minutes to see what they can eat.
If you find yourself in this position, distract yourself!! Get out of the house and go for a little walk maybe.
Think about it for a second! We have all had those days where we might have had a really busy day at work and might not have had the time to take a lunch break and even forgotten about eating! It’s because your mind was distracted!
6.) Out of sight, out of mind.
If you can’t stop eating the biscuits in the press, THROW THEM OUT!!!
The less available food is, the less likely you are to want it!
If you want to stay on track with your diet and temptation is in the way, then you need to clear out the foods that are causing you to go off track.
Know your weaknesses and don’t rely on will power!!
Every body has a ‘danger food’ that they just can’t help them self with!! For some people it is peanut butter, others biscuits! Knowing that it is there in the press will make you want it more. One little spoon of peanut butter here and there can add a lot of calories to your over all daily intake!!
Biscuits, chocolates, cakes, crisps etc. are all highly palatable and it can be hard to say know when they are so easily accessible.
When you do plan to have a treat from time to time, buy them as you need them! Don’t just buy a multi-pack and say I’ll have one later and keep the rest for the next time I can fit in a treat!! That won’t happen if you struggle with will power! Buy an individual treat! That way temptation won’t cause you to sabotage your diet!
7.) Spread out meals your suit hunger patterns.
If you aren’t that hungry in the morning times but get hungrier as the day goes on, time your meals to suit that!! Skip breakfast or push it back a bit so that you have more calories for later on in the day/night.
If you wake up starving but as the day goes on you get less hungry, you can also time your meals to suit that! Have more of your meals earlier on in the day.
You don’t need to eat breakfast and you don’t need to skip it!
There are common misconceptions in the fitness industry that you need to eat a breakfast or that you shouldn’t eat late in the evening or you will gain weight!! Meal timing is relatively unimportant when it comes to fat loss. Once you are in a calorie deficit, you will still lose fat regardless of what time you eat your meals at.
Eat to suit your hunger patterns and try to have a consistent eating schedule each day. Hunger hormones are better regulated when your eating schedule remains relatively similar. If the time you eat every day varies greatly, you may experience increased hunger so try and set a structure with your eating routine.
8.) Get enough sleep.
Sleep is so important for a number of reasons and managing hunger/cravings is one of them. Even slight sleep deprivation significantly alters hunger hormones and can cause you to feel hungrier than usual or have more cravings.
Sleep is the most important recover tool and helps with fatigue which will help reduce cravings.
Aim to get at least 6-8 hours (push for 8) per night of unbroken, good quality sleep.
9.) Eat with smaller utensils.
This might seem like a strange one but it has actually been proven to work!
The size of your eating utensils and serving plates/bowls may have a dramatic effect on how much food you need to feel full.
Using a small spoon rather than a regular spoon for example will help you slow down and feel like you are eating more than you actually are.
Using smaller plates so you are subconsciously reducing portion sizes which will help you consume less food without feeling deprived.
Try it the next time and see for yourself!