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Are you hungry while on a diet?

If you answered “YES” you’re probably doing it right! I hate to burst your bubble but being hungry (to some extent) is part of being on a diet. For the sake of argument, we’ll refer to ‘diet’ as any extended period of time when you are in a self-imposed caloric deficit. You should be taking in less calories than you normally do, and so you will be hungry. The good news is that you can manage being hungry so your diet isn’t so inconvenient and you can sustain your diet to see results.

Hydration

We’ve all heard it before – water is GOOD for you! Yes! It is! Think about your body like a car… you put gas in a car like you put food in your body, yes? Well, your car doesn’t JUST need gas to run well just like your body needs more than food to run well. A car needs oil, brake fluid, and coolant to keep it running smoothly. The human body needs water to keep it running smoothly, as well! As general rule of thumb, take your body weight (lbs) and divide that in half to get the minimum number of ounces you should be drinking daily.

Staying hydrated while on a diet will help you manage hunger since hunger cues are usually mistaken for hydration cues!
Pro Tip: Get a water bottle you like! If you have something you enjoy drinking out of you are more likely to get more of the good stuff in your system.

Meal Timing

While not on a diet many of us rely on hunger cues to tell us when to eat. We also may just eat at certain times because we are in the habit of it! When on a diet you’ll be more closely monitoring how much you eat. Monitoring when you eat can also be beneficial. A window of 3-4 hours between meals is ideal to allow your body to digest it’s meals and use your glycogen stores for energy.

Take on meal timing slowly: For a couple of days before you dive into your diet, write down when you eat and WHY you are eating. Is it lunch time? Were you actually hungry, or just eating the ‘after work’ snack out of habit? Meal timing can help you take your decreased calories and move them into bigger more satisfying meals.

Pro Tip: When first changing your meal timing habits, you will be hungry and it will feel uncomfortable at first. Changing habits doesn’t always come easy! If you feel stressed out from missing your normal snack sesh mid-morning, try subbing it out with something non-food related. Great options are 3-5 minutes of meditation, a short coloring book break, or a walk around the office or outside. Chances are you need the mental break more than you need the snack. Avoiding this type of mindless eating can help you be intentional with your meal timing.

Food Choices

The reality of being on a diet is that there are foods that are more and less filling. The foods that are less filling are general the ones that we crave the most! Candy, sweets, breads, YUM! The more filling foods are also the ones that we can eat more of for less calories, but often times appeal to our taste buds less. These are things like fibrous veggies, leafy greens, berries, and some nuts. The beauty of being on a diet is that it is, in its most basic form, calories in vs. calories out. This means with some careful planning you can fill the majority of your day with filling foods. Making those food choices helps manage hunger. With some planning, you can still have some morsels of those less filling but delicious options while staying in a caloric deficit.

If you know you crave something specific (chocolate, maybe?) plan to have a serving of that snack later on in the day. Knowing you will satisfy that craving you’re more likely to choose more filling and nutritious foods during the bulk of the day. Adding in these treats and preparing for them will help keep you on-track with your diet, manage your hunger, and still see results. #balance

Often times, we can find low-calorie options for our favorite high-calorie foods! There’s several low-calories ice creams, delicious protein bars, and even recipes you can alter if you want to get more creative in the kitchen.

Craving Busters

You look at the clock..It’s mid-afternoon. You’re not really hungry but you can’t stop thinking about food. You’re just bored or maybe having CRAVINGS. Oh no! I will tell you this, we have ALL been there.

If you don’t want to bust your meal timing or diet efforts in general, there are some ZERO calorie (or almost) options that you can implement to help defeat this and manage your hunger.

  • Unsweetened Tea: Hot or iced, this is a great option because you can pick out any flavor you like! Berry flavored teas are great for summer while peppermint and cinnamon flavors are good for winter. Even when I’m not on a diet, I’ll implement this strategy to help curb my mindless eating during the winter season when treats are surrounding me!
  • Gum: Grab your favorite pack and chew away! Sometimes we just need something small to give ourselves the illusion of eating some delicious treat, and then we can move on. Before you know it, your craving has passed and you can move on with your day while still on the diet track!
  • Coffee with Sugar Free Syrup or Stevia: Grab a cup of Joe and flavor it with your preferred flavor! Coffee shops usually have sugar free options available. There are also several in-store stevia flavor droppers that you can utilize and keep on hand at home or at work. I always keep a dropper of vanilla stevia in my purse just for this reason!
  • Infused water: Slice up some lemons and rosemary, or berries and mint, and toss them in your water bottle! This is a delicious and refreshing twist on water and will help you to meet your hydration goals.

You can do this!

Being on a diet means you will have to deal with hunger. However,  you can manage this hunger and give yourself the best opportunity to stay on track! Take these pieces of advice one at a time. Implement one thing first, make it a habit, then move on to the next. When it comes to diet sustainability and managing hunger, slow and steady wins the race.


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