Let’s be honest, being hungry is the worst. It’s uncomfortable, all you can think about is food and it is usually what eventually leads us to fall off track. Unfortunately, a lot of diets will put you in this situation and then say – Just use more willpower! Ugh. I got your willpower right here, buddy! The good thing is, once you really understand hunger and how to solve it you can feel full AND reach your health goals. Here are sneaky sources of hunger and how to solve them.
You’re not getting enough protein
If you look at hunger as a problem to be solved, protein solves this problem. Have you ever heard anyone say “Oh my goodness, I ate 6 chicken breasts last night and couldn’t stop myself” or “I barreled through a dozen eggs this morning…I’m so glad they are out of the house!” But we do say that about carbs, right? Now DO NOT read this as me not wanting you to have carbs. Please, please eat them! However, if you want to actually solve hunger, protein needs to be present.
We tend to do a good job with protein at lunch and dinner, it is breakfast and snacks where they fall through the cracks. Make sure to have a source of protein at every breakfast and snack. Check out some satisfying breakfast recipes here.
You’re not getting enough calories
No one ever wants to believe that this one applies to them, but it’s one of the most common things I see! Here’s the thing, healthy food is intrinsically low in calories, which is great! When we are kicking off a health plan, we focus on healthier foods (awesome!) so visually it may look like a lot of food. In actuality, we aren’t eating much at all. We don’t notice this during the day when we are running on caffeine and distracted, but at night this can show up as uncontrollable cravings. This is even if you have had a larger meal right before, which can make it super confusing!
If you are feeling snacky late at night, look to how you are eating earlier in the day. This may be increasing your breakfast so it is a bit heartier (and has protein!) or adding in an additional snack. Check out some great protein packed snacks here.
You’re not getting enough pleasure
You might think that it is impossible, but both health and pleasure can exist in the same place. I know! When we focus on healthy eating we tend to build our plans around what we “should” be eating rather than what we actually enjoy. This can leave us wanting more. Have you ever had a large healthy meal but then found yourself scrounging for something sweet? Incorporating a little something you really enjoy into your meals can have a dramatic ripple effect on your hunger and health goals.
Now you certainly don’t need to be brought to the point of ecstasy every time you eat and pleasure doesn’t need to be a chocolate sundae on your spinach salad. It should be something that you genuinely enjoy. Examples could be some goat cheese on your salad or some chips with your lunch (that’s mine!). This may take some experimentation but you may be surprised at how a little of something you love can go a long way.
You’re not getting enough sleep
Even if we are in bed for enough hours, sometimes the quality of our sleep is low and that causes us to crave sugar. Lack of quality sleep is also the most common cause weight loss resistance I see.
If you are getting less than 7 hours, I would highly recommend that you start trying to add to that in 15 minute intervals. If you are having trouble falling asleep I love the magnesium supplement called Calm. It is not a sleeping pill, but it can enhance your relaxation and help your mind stop spinning! For other foods that help sleep checkout this blog.
You’re using food to solve an emotion
Although the vast majority of hunger is physical (I promise) emotional eating is a real thing and can make us feel insatiable. We put emotional eating in a “bad” category but it is also a wonderful thing because it lets us know that we have a need. The problem is not that we emotionally eat, it is that we push into a punitive place so quickly we rarely investigate the underlying need and never solve the problem. This can become a cycle and make us feel like we can’t be trusted around food.
Next time you find yourself turning to food to soothe an emotion, take a second and try to identify what you are really feeling. You can still use food in that instance, but it will be the first step to creating a solution to what you are really craving!