To expand on that idea, here's another cold hard truth when it comes to dieting....
If you are eating to lose weight, you are going to get hungry.
It's not to say you'll constantly be starving, but hey - you are feeding your body (slightly) less than it needs to sustain itself at its current composition, so it's going to happen.
Some tips to mitigate hunger:
Eat enough protein
Not only will adequate protein intake help keep you fuller for longer (1), but protein can help spare your hard-earned muscle mass (2). Which is key, because the last thing you want to lose when you are dieting is your muscle!
Opt for fibre-rich foods
Not unlike protein, fibre helps keep you fuller longer because it slows the stomach’s emptying rate. And a full stomach is a happy stomach (3).
Drinking enough water can help you feel less hungry, because it temporarily fills your stomach without overloading your system with calories. (4)
Don’t drink your food
The act of chewing plays a huge role in digestion and the perception of satiety. In other words, the more you chew, the fuller you feel! (5)
Go for volume
This goes hand in hand with previous tips, but it bears repeating. The more you eat, the more satisfied you will be. In the context of a caloric deficit (i.e., a diet), this means that the higher the volume of food you get to eat in a a day, the more satisfied you will be. Download my cheat sheet for tips on how to eat for volume.
This may sound pretty woowoo to you, but try it anyway. I invite you to keep a pen and paper handy in the kitchen, and jot down your feelings and thoughts whenever a craving hits. Are you truly hungry, or do you want a cookie as a way to procrastinate having a difficult conversation with your partner? Are you truly hungry, or would popcorn be your usual way to unwind after a stressful day at work where you didn’t set personal boundaries?
This is a tip that applies to everyone, whether or not they are looking to lose weight. Digestion begins in the brain, so I encourage you to clean up your meal hygiene. Try taking a few deep breaths to relax and clear your mind before you eat. Then sit down at a table, free of distractions (that’s right, no eating dinner on the couch while watching Friends on Netflix!), and put down your fork between bites. This way, you will be more present with your food, and you will feel more satisfied with it, so you’ll be less likely to get hungry shortly after your meal.
Our eyes play a huge role in our enjoyment of food. I know it’s not rational, but the same amount of food on a smaller plate will register as more satisfying, so trade dinner plates for breakfast ones. (Can you see how this is the opposite trick that restaurants use to get you to order more?) (6)
Adopting an all-or-nothing mindset is a surefire way to have your diet fail and embark on the yoyo dieting train. Instead of thinking you have to be “perfect” and follow the plan to the letter, why not indulge in a small treat once in a while? In most cases, treating yourself in moderation once in a while will allow you to strengthen your resolve and motivation. Think of it like a mini-diet vacation for your brain - once you are back at work (the diet), you are all the more motivated to kill it!
We all use food to fend off boredom sometimes. If as you journal about your cravings (see above) you realize that you would like to reach for pretzels out of boredom, then do something about it! Why not come up with a list of 5-10 activities you can do when boredom strikes? Stick that list on your fridge so that you can refer to it whenever necessary. It can be anything - call a friend, take the dog on a walk, bust out your inappropriate adult colouring book, stretch, fold some laundry… (what, am I the only one who enjoys folding laundry? You weirdos)
Examine your sleep
The more sleep-deprived we are, the hungrier we get, thanks to increased hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreased satiety hormone leptin. My tip? Examine your sleep habits, and see how you can optimize your routine.
The key takeaway here is be open with your coach about how you are feeling while in a caloric deficit! I know I started off by telling you that getting hungry is normal when you are dieting, but it doesn’t mean that you need to be a martyr and just grin and bear it. Your coach is there to help you through it and make sure you have the best experience possible while also working towards your goals! If that sounds like something you’d like support with, get in touch - I’d love to help you out.
If you managed to get through this monster of a post, you deserve a treat! I put together a cheat sheet to teach you how to eat for volume, so that you aren’t ravenous while dieting. Download it below!