So, you’re trying to lose weight, or just get healthier, but that urge to eat whenever you feel a pang of hunger is making it hard. Dieting is unarguably hard, however, sometimes when you feel hungry, your body isn’t actually craving food, your brain is just making you think it is.
Homeostatic hunger vs. hedonic hunger
Feeling hungry can mean two things: firstly, it can be what we traditionally know as hunger – a growling stomach, a feeling of fatigue, and that classic ‘hangry’ feeling when lack of food is making you irritable – this is called homoeostatic hunger. It’s associated with signals throughout the brain and body that make us aware that our fuel is running low. Here are a few tricks to deal with ‘real hunger’:
- Eat protein at every meal - adding more protein to your diet can increase feelings of fullness.
- Eat fibre rich foods – these have been shown to increase post‐meal satiety and decrease subsequent hunger.
- Hydrate – thirst can be confused with hunger, make sure you drink plenty of water and minimise consumption of high calorie drinks.
You now know how to tackle ‘real hunger’. However, we’ve all experienced the effects of hedonic hunger. Hedonic hunger refers to craving food for pleasure rather than hunger. Here are our top tips to combat this:
Healthy sleep patterns have been linked to a decrease in cravings and an increase in self-control.
- Reduce Stress
Many struggle with emotional eating. Stress can increase the production of a hormone called cortisol which in turn increases food cravings. Finding a practice such as mindfulness, yoga or a walk-in nature can help manage stress.
- Focus your attention elsewhere
Another common reason for overeating can be boredom. Learn to differentiate this emotion from real hunger and then have a plan: call a friend or get moving.