You happily eat your meals and munch on your carrots.
You think to yourself,
This isn’t that bad. I’m not very hungry. I can do this.
In a few months’ time, I’m going to be a whole new person.
This time is different. I’m motivated and ready – let’s do this!
Into the gym you walk, determined to stick to your plan.
You load the bars up, lift the weights, take care of business, and head home – satisfied and eager to be the “you” you’ve always wanted to be.
Fast forward 6 weeks…………………..
That motivation you had in the first week is completely gone.
You’re not excited – you’re annoyed and tired – your mood has gone from great to piss-poor.
Those carrot sticks you enjoyed so much on Day 1 are making you gag on Day 40.
Those workouts you were all jacked up for seem like a chore now.
None of those items are as bad as the HUNGER, though.
Hunger seems to have taken a permanent spot in the passenger’s seat. You wake up hungry, you go to sleep hungry, you train hungry…….. the only time you’re not hungry is during the 15 minutes you are eating each meal.
5 minutes after your meal is finished, the hunger is back.
So, what do we do? Can we beat hunger? Can we make hunger go away and vanish?
Is it possible to diet and not be hungry?
I would suggest the advantage doesn’t lie in minimizing your hunger; the advantage lies in seeing hunger for what it truly is.
When we see hunger with the right lens, we strip it of its power, and make dieting a breeze in the process.
Suppression Of Urges
One of the defining characteristics of humans is our ability to suppress our body’s urges and delay gratification.
This separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
We can reason – we can think about what we are doing and make rational, informed decisions without giving way to animal instincts.
Some of us find this easier than others.
Imagine a world where a bodily urge needed to be fulfilled immediately, under no exceptions.
Every time you felt the least bit tired……….
- …………good night, ‘yall – the world is my mattress. We would have a lot of George Costanzas out there, sleeping under their desks at the office.
Every time you felt the least bit angry………
Every time you had to use the restroom…………..
- …………..you’d better turn the other way – I don’t care where we are, it’s go-time.
Every time you saw someone who was attractive………….
- …………..public masturbation would be accepted as the norm………or worse……………
These analogies are a bit “out there”. But they hold merit. If we satisfied our urges the minute they came about, this world would be in full-chaos mode.
We cannot sleep every time we are tired, fight every time we are angry, use the restroom as soon as we have to, or satisfy our sexual urges every time we are aroused. This world doesn’t work like that. We have learned and adapted to our environment and we have the ability to delay gratification.
Yet for some reason, the instant we feel hunger, we run to the fridge.
OH MY GOD I HAVE LOW BLOOD SUGAR I’M GOING TO PASS OUT RIGHT HERE IF I DON’T EAT THIS VERY SECOND GET OUT OF MY WAY I NEED SOME FOOD MOVE NOW OR I’M GOING TO EAT OFF MY ARM AND I MIGHT EAT YOUR ARM OFF TOO!!!!!!!
That’s a real quote, by the way.
Have you heard it, too?
Beating Physiological Hunger
Bad news, ladies and gents.
If you want to maintain a lean physique year-round, you will need to experience hunger on a regular basis.
This doesn’t mean you will always feel famished or malnourished, but hunger is a signal to the body that it’s feeding time.
If you are eating around your maintenance, you will feel less hunger, but there will still be hunger. If you are dieting, there will be more hunger, as this is your body’s signal that it doesn’t have enough food to maintain its activity without digging into your body’s fat stores.
But isn’t that what we WANT?
Hunger is merely a feeling. Unless you are a diabetic or are under an extreme and ill-advised calorie deficit, you will not pass out from hunger. If you give it some time, the hunger will likely fade.
There may be some reasons you’re feeling more hunger than necessary. If you find yourself “hangry” (hungry and angry), ask yourself the following:
1. Am I eating enough veggies and getting enough fiber?
Veggies and the accompanying fiber slows down food digestion in your body. This allows the food we eat to “last longer”, which has a positive impact on hunger control. Be sure you’re eating heaps of fibrous veggies with each meal if you are dieting.
2. Am I staying hydrated?
Dehydration often manifests itself in hunger. You think you are hungry, but you are actually thirsty. This is why after an all-night bender, you are ravenous and call the pizza guy at 3 am. You’re not hungry; the alcohol has dehydrated you and made you feel hungry.
Each day, your urine should be clear by noon. If it’s not, time to up the hydration levels.
3. Am I getting a moderate dose of fat?
Fat, like fiber, helps to slow digestion. You may find it beneficial to eat most of your day’s fat intake at dinner along with vegetables. That way, the 1-2 punch of fiber and fat will slow digestion as much as possible, allowing you to be less hungry in the morning.
Low-fat diets are a great way to be frequently hungry. Be mindful of the calories fat has in it, but be sure you get a decent dose.
4. Am I eating at consistent meal times?
Our bodies adapt to the stimulus we provide for them. If we eat at the same time each day, we will get accustomed to eating at those times. Our bodies will begin to recognize when it’s feeding time, and more importantly – when it’s not feeding time.
This helps keep hunger at bay, as your body will only be hungry when it expects to be given food.
5. Am I getting enough sleep?
Sleep is crucial for hunger management. This is yet another reason we tend to eat more on days after we drink. The alcohol has made the night’s sleep poor in quality. We are dehydrated and tired, which is a deadly combination for our waistlines.
Be sure to get your 7-8 hours per night. Your room should be cool and dark. Leave your cellphone downstairs. Read before bed.
Take some magnesium, zinc, and melatonin before bed to improve your night’s rest.
If you have children, sell them and use the money to buy a pillow-top mattress.
Beating Psychological Hunger
The phrase “psychological” hunger sounds odd. It refers to the anxiety which surrounds dieting. We feel “compelled” to eat and we’re not exactly sure why. Our stomachs aren’t rumbling and we don’t feel hungry, but our urges and cravings are there.
Here are a few tricks to use to beat this psychological hunger:
1. Reflect often.
Each evening, take 5-10 minutes and ask yourself a few questions about the day you just completed. Among them:
- Was I hungry during the day?
- At what times was I hungry?
- How hungry was I? Rate it on a scale from 1-10.
- Is this hunger manageable or will it be unsustainable moving forward?
- Can I alter my diet in order to minimize this hunger (using the above strategies)?
Often with a bit of mindfulness and self-reflection we realize our hunger is present, but manageable. We can’t eliminate it completely. If we look at it objectively, we will realize it’s not a big deal.
2. Play the “10-minute game”.
If you feel the urge to eat off-plan food, pick up your smartphone, set the timer for 10 minutes, and leave the room. Get out of the environment and go do something.
When the timer goes off, ask yourself, “Am I hungry? Do I feel the sensation of hunger, or did I just have an urge?”
If the answer is “Yes” and you’re actually hungry, allow yourself one serving of the food in question, but no more.
Often, you will find you weren’t hungry, you simply had a craving.
3. Get busy.
Idle hands are the devil’s tools. Stop staring at the marshmallow. Go do something. Clean the house, wash the car, fold the laundry, cut the grass…… it really doesn’t matter.
Just get busy and get your mind off the damn food.
4. Suck it up.
Ready for the “tough love” segment of this article?
Cry me a river. Here we are, bitching and moaning about the fact that we sometimes feel hunger because our organic foods purchased in our SUVs don’t fill us up as nicely as we wish.
What a “First World Problem”!
If you’re reading this, you have the internet, and you are in the First World. You are privileged. It’s time to start acting like it – show some damn gratitude for all you have.
Not 150 years ago, we had no electricity, no running water, no public plumbing/toilets, no transportation, and if our crops or livestock didn’t survive? No food.
We are truly living in a world of excess.
Bitching over hunger? Get over it.
Here’s a video of Haitians eating DIRT for dinner. Seriously.
This could be you – think about THIS the next time you whine about hunger:
Puts things into perspective, eh?
Being a bit hungry is a small price to pay for leaning out and getting healthy.
Be thankful you are given the opportunity to experience hunger without the threat of starvation.
Yours in full-bellies,