I’ve realised over recent weeks that I am afraid of being hungry. I am very lucky to never have been truly hungry. My grandma tells stories of being too poor to have food at every meal when she was a young girl growing up in Yorkshire and I am thankful that I have never experienced that level of hunger. Yes, like everyone there are times when I am ready for my next meal but I’ve never had the situation where I am hungry and I don’t know where my next meal is coming from.
So why am I afraid of being hungry? Because it sabotages weight loss.
You’d think that hunger would make you lose weight, wouldn’t you? You’ve seen the photos of people suffering from starvation and there are plenty of ‘fasting’ type diets out there that suggest you lose weight by being hungry. So why would being hungry not help you to lose weight?
There are two reasons that hunger can sabotage your efforts to lose weight:
- You overeat in order to prevent yourself feeling hungry too soon
- You are so hungry that you are unable to stop yourself eating too much when you do eat.
Lets take them one at a time;
The problem: You overeat in order to prevent yourself feeling hungry too soon
For example, if you are having beans on toast and normally make toast from one slice of wholemeal bread what happens if you only have white? You may eat two slices instead of one because you don’t think the white bread will fill you up. You could be afraid that you will want to eat more food later and so pre-empt it and eat it now. It may be having a second helping of something that you don’t really need or a pudding that you are not really hungry for.
The solution: Eat as much as you need, always have healthy snacks available or save some for later
Learn to recognise the signals that your stomach sends you and never allow yourself to get that ‘too full’ feeling. If you have eaten everything on your plate and still feel hungry, try to wait a few minutes before you eat something else and see if you still feel hungry. If you think you might be hungry later have something prepared or have snacks in your handbag. Remember that it’s ok to eat if you’re hungry.
The problem: You are so hungry that you are unable to stop yourself eating too much when you do eat.
You are so hungry you feel you might eat the person next to you if you aren’t given a plateful of food soon. You pile your plate high and sit down to eat, shovelling it in until you feel it sitting in your stomach. You don’t feel full so you wolf down the whole lot and more until… you feel really uncomfortable in your stomach and you realise you have overeaten.
The solution: Slow down!
This takes a bit of self-control but you need to slow yourself down as you eat. Make sure you chew each mouthful properly and don’t allow yourself to shovel it in as quickly as you can. Remember that it takes a few minutes for the food to move from your mouth to your stomach and therefore your stomach will continue to fill after you stop eating. If you can, even take a couple of breaks to allow your stomach to register the food. Again, you never want to have that bloated, over full feeling because that means you have eaten too much.
So, hunger isn’t the way to a healthy weight loss; regular balanced meals, healthy snacks, eating until you feel comfortably full and stopping before you feel bloated is far better.