Whether you’re trying to lose fat or just maintain a healthy weight, one of the hardest things can be dealing with hunger. It’s hard to kill your hunger, but learning to control your eating is crucial if you’re going to be optimally healthy. Here we give you seven ways to beat hunger while keeping yourself healthy and happy.
1. Stop Emotional Eating
If people only ate when they were actually hungry, a lot of eating problems would simply solve themselves. Actual hunger, however, is only one of the many reasons why human beings eat. We eat to celebrate an accomplishment. We eat to mourn a personal disappointment. We eat to show solidarity with friends, or because we feel lonely and left out. We eat because we’re stressed. Perhaps most commonly, we eat out of pure and simple boredom. Even worse, the foods that we gravitate to during times of emotional eating tend to be some of the least healthy options.
The first key to stopping emotional eating is to simply be aware of what you’re doing and what you really want. A lot of the time, when we eat emotionally, we don’t even really enjoy the food–and how satisfying can it really be if it’s not what we actually want? If you address the root problem, that may in itself kill your hunger. So if you’re lonely, pick up the phone instead of the potato chips. If you’re stressed, take some deep breaths or blow off some steam through exercise.
2. Be Present
A lot of the time when we eat, we go into autopilot. We shovel food into our mouths, not really tasting it or thinking about whether we’re actually still hungry. By the time we realize we’re full, we’ve often overeaten. If you actually focus on your eating, you will enjoy it more, and you will probably eat less. So instead of eating in front of the TV, try just concentrating on the sensations of eating. Instead of reaching for a second helping simply because you’re used to it, stop to think and feel if you really want that additional portion. When you’re present, you won’t have to kill your hunger—once you’ve satiated it, it’ll go away all on its own.
3. Get Enough Sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll find that you crave food more. A study performed at the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation slows the metabolism while decreasing hormones that stave off hunger and simultaneously increasing amounts of hunger-increasing hormones. If chronic hunger is a problem for you, try getting to bed a little earlier and see if that helps you.
4. Eat After Working Out
Just after you’ve worked out is a great time for a meal or snack. Eating between 15 and 30 minutes after exercise can help to control your appetite. If you wait to eat, though, you may find yourself either hitting a blood sugar crash or binge-eating. Studies have shown that people who eat soon after working out consume fewer calories than those who wait more than an hour to eat.
5. Drink More
Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, your wires are actually crossed. It’s true that your body does want you to put something in your belly, but it’s not food—it’s water. When you feel hungry, try having a sip of water before you declare yourself in the middle of a hunger emergency. This will help fill your stomach, and it may kill your hunger completely. Either way, drinking water has been shown to help limit calorie consumption. A study performed at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that people who consumed seven cups of water per day ate nearly 200 calories fewer than those who drank substantially less.
6. Eat Protein and Produce
When we’re hungry, a lot of us reach for the carbs, but protein seems to do a better job keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Adult men should try to eat 56 grams of protein per day, and women should try to get 46.
Eating vegetables can also kill your hunger. They’re low-calorie, make great snacks, and you really don’t have to ration how much of them you eat. They are also high in fiber and water, both of which can help you to stay feeling full longer. Although fruit often is not quite as low-calorie or high-fiber as vegetables, it has many of the same qualities, making fresh, canned or frozen fruit great for snacking as well. Just make sure you steer clear of sweetened fruits.
7. Eat Foods with a Low Glycemic Index
Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only way to get fiber and feel full without empty calories. If you eat low glycemic index foods like yogurt, beans, potatoes and whole grains, it will help you to avoid hunger emergencies much better than if you live off white bread.