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Hungry All the Time? How to Stop Overeating

If you're always hungry, this simple mindset shift may help.

Feeling too hungry is unquestionably a trigger for many, if not most people trying to stick to a diet. "We’re starving! You simply must break this stupid diet or we'll surely die!" says the inner "Food Demon." "Just start again tomorrow." Before you know it your best laid plans are out the window and you're burying your face in your favorite bag, box, or container.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

First, accept that your experiential hunger meter may be broken and make an objective assessment. The food industry pushes artificially engineered concentrations of starch, sugar, fat, salt, and excitotoxins that hit our bliss point without giving us enough nutrition to feel satisfied. There are billions of dollars of research that go into ensuring we don’t know when to stop, and don’t want to even when we do.

So forgive yourself for struggling with hunger that seems completely out of sync with how many calories you’re consuming, etc. Instead, make a more factual assessment of whether you do or don’t need more food (and what type) by consulting with a licensed dietitian, nutritionist, and/or tallying your calories using any of the free services available online, for example, Cronometer.com or MyFitnessPal.com. Ask yourself if you realistically need more food right now? If so, take care of yourself.

Second, unless a doctor is instructing you otherwise, make sure you’re not trying to lose weight too quickly. In my experience, people who lose more than one or two pounds a week eventually gain it all back and more. That’s because they’re not just struggling with overeating, they’re struggling with over-dieting too. They keep their body stuck in a feast-or-famine cycle where it thinks nutrition and calories are often scarce, so as soon as they are available the brain says “hoard all you can!”

Once you’re objectively sure you don’t authentically need more food, here’s how to avoid overeating when you feel too hungry:

  • Enjoy your hunger! If you’re going to lose weight there are realistically going to be times when you feel hungry, so it’s best to learn to enjoy it. This is when your body is turning to stored fat instead of available food. It’s a good sign and a necessary part of trimming down. Tolerating hunger in the context of an authentically nourished body also means you are learning to master your impulses rather than continuing to be their slave.
  • Grab your stomach, tush, or hips and say “Let it burn, baby, let it burn!” Listen, you’ve been carrying around that extra lunch, dinner, and/or dessert in the most undesirable places on your body for too long. So relish in the fact it’s coming off you. Feel it in the moment. Shout “Let it burn!”
  • Tell yourself they’re not going to find your bones by the refrigerator. It takes weeks (or even months) for a well-nourished body to starve to death. And while I don’t recommend skipping meals if you can avoid it, the likelihood of a Channel 9 News story coming out next week with a video of your skeleton reaching for the refrigerator in a last desperate attempt to avoid starvation are slim to none, right? So repeat after me: “They won’t find my bones by the refrigerator!”
  • Remember: “Feelings aren’t facts!” Even though every bone in your body feels like someone better hand over the chocolate or you may “go crazy,” in reality there’s nothing at all wrong with not eating any right now. Remember, feelings aren’t facts.
  • Slow down and think about whether the feeling of hunger comes from your belly or your head. If you think you have to eat but the feeling doesn't come from your belly then you should ignore it like the 'Food Demon Squeal' it is! Plus, if it's just a general feeling of fatigue, unease, or discomfort, it might be you’re just dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting five minutes to see how you feel. (Note: When you are genuinely hungry you should feel it in your throat in addition to your belly)

There you have it–some practical strategies to stop overeating when you feel too hungry. For more, see my post on unusual ways to stop binge eating.

References

Brissette, C. (2018 March 1st). This is Your Body on Fast Food. Retrieved from the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/sneaking-a-little-jun…

NTV Food Desk (2018, May 24th). Junk Food Advertisements May Increase Craving For Fast Foods: Study [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.ndtv.com/food/junk-food-advertisements-may-increase-craving…

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