Top Tips for Hunger Control
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from people when they’re trying to curb their food intake is that they’re “hungry all the time”. When your body needs fuel, you know it. Your stomach rumbles and your energy might start fading, and those signals can be hard to ignore. And if you’re trying to control calories, it can be even more of a challenge to control your hunger at the same time. So here are some tips that might help.
- First, be sure you recognize hunger for what it is. You might think you’re hungry, but you could just be bored, tired or anxious. Sometimes you see or smell something that looks really tempting and you just want to eat it, but you aren’t really hungry. If you’re not sure, try doing something else to distract yourself first, and then check in with yourself a little while later.
- Have some protein at each meal and snack. High protein foods satisfy hunger better than foods that are high in fat or carbohydrate. Protein foods work not only in your digestive tract, but they also affect your brain chemistry to help you to feel satisfied and keep you mentally sharp.
- Include foods that contain water and fiber. Bulky, watery foods like vegetables, fruits, soups and smoothies are great hunger-busters because they help fill you up with relatively few calories.
- Get regular exercise. While it’s true that you need the proper foods to fuel your activity, the eating-exercise connection is complex, and there’s a growing body of evidence that exercise is beneficial for appetite control.
- Stay hydrated. For one thing, fluids with meals may make your meals seem more filling. Another reason is that when you get dehydrated, it’s not uncommon to confuse feelings of thirst with feelings of hunger. You may just need fluid, not food.
- Lastly, eat several small meals and snacks. Frequent feedings will help keep your blood sugar levels more even throughout the day. That’s important, because when you go too long without eating, your blood sugar dips, causing your hunger to spike. And when you eat small, frequent meals, it’s a lot easier to manage your hunger when you know you’ll be eating again in just a few hours.