It’s in our basic nature to reach for a large portion when hungry. Therefore, workouts apart, it’s a must to keep high-satiety food options available at hand, simply for the times when you feel those hunger pangs.
With all the energy you devote to shedding kilos, you might actually know very little about the why most diets fail — hunger pangs. It’s never easy to resist that third serving of pizza even if you are bursting out of your seams. The guilt always strikes after the damage is done. Know the signs of hunger, the cues for stress eating, and what triggers your cravings to tame yourself when hunger strikes.
You’ve been working since 10 in the morning and consistently thinking about the deadline. Too busy to eat, there is a chance you would suffer from starvation. "Hunger is your body’s cue to eat. Due to habits such as erratic timings and long gaps between meals, hunger cues get out of sync, leading to severe hunger pangs," says clinical wellness expert Namita Jain.
A simple solution
Firstly, understand your body clock. Know the difference between actual hunger and stomach contractions. Also, at times you may be misguided by people around you. "You may feel that eating less is better but it isn’t true," says John Gloster, fitness expert. "Starvation is never a great survival strategy. Eat less but eat more often," he adds.
Is it hunger or thirst?
Figure out whether you are hungry or thirsty? Sometimes your body can send off signals to the brain that you are hungry. This is because food has lots of fluid contained within it. However, you don’t want to be confused with taking on-board unwanted calories when you simply haven’t had enough to drink. The key is to ensure you keep your fluid intake up over the course of a day.
What to eat and when
If you’re following a particular diet, you will always prefer to carry a lunch box to work. A wheat bread sandwich, idlis (four to five), unpolished rice ( a bowl) and curd, a roti roll filled with vegetables or two to three fruits are apt options for the day. For mid-night hunger pangs, foods like salad sandwich are a big no-no. You would certainly not wish to sleep with a heavy stomach that leaves you restless all night. Instead, eat a fruit and drink a glass full of water over it.
To make sure you don’t experience hunger pangs when on a diet, use top quality meal replacement drinks like coconut water, green tea and butter milk and get your hands on whatever snacks are allowed in the diet programme like soy nuts or energy bars. Eat a healthy balanced meal that doesn’t leave you feeling hungry, and this way you’ll get to snack on some treats when you want to!
To avoid severe hunger pangs
- Skipping breakfast is a sin. Don’t skip breakfast, or you’ll be starving and cranky by mid-morning. A breakfast with complex carbs and low fat protein will help stave off snack attacks.
- Plan ahead. Make sure that you have low calorie snacks and drinks with you. Take note of what times of day you become hungry and plan your meals and snacks accordingly. If you always cave in around 4 pm, schedule a snack for 3.30 and drink a big glass of water, too.
- Your body requires a certain amount of fat. Choose healthy fats, like olive oil. Mediterranean people include a lot of olive oil in their cooking and they have famously low rates of obesity and heart disease.
- Do not take drastic steps. Cutting your calories too drastically will make your metabolism slow down and cause you to be plagued with hunger all of the time.
- Eat volumes of low-cal food. Broccoli, cauliflower and veggie salads will fill you up and help stave off hunger.
- Stay away from sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates like sticky buns, cake and donuts. If you eat them your blood sugar will soar, and then crash and you’ll find yourself irritable, jittery and famished.
- Eat sufficient protein. Scientific studies show that protein leaves people feeling full longer than carbohydrates.
To keep those hunger pangs at bay, distract yourself and divert your mind from food by getting involved in a task or a hobby you enjoy doing the most.