Sunday, February 6, 2011

How do I Stave off the Hunger?

I've been noticing a creeping need to snack more at night.  It was to the point a few days ago that I ate somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 cups of grapes AND a pear after I'd eaten dinner.  I was totally entitled.  I had calories left to eat for the day, it was a healthy snack, and I figured it was a fine choice.  That is... until I was so uncomfortable that I felt like I might throw up.  I was laying in bed playing some games on my iPhone to try to distract myself from the awful feeling, but I couldn't even focus on what I was doing.  I just curled up in a ball in total pain.  I didn't throw up, and I'm shocked that I didn't.

The next day I came to the same point in the evening and wanted to eat fruit all night.  I felt snacky, I didn't even feel hungry.  I ate a cup of blueberries and put them away.  Then, I just sat on the couch and asked myself what the frack was going on.  I knew I wasn't hungry.  I knew that if I continued fruit binging that I'd end up precisely where I was the other night.  So, I then drank a few glasses of water, and  I ate an orange an hour later.  It was a step in the right direction.

I also have been hearing from some friends in the weight loss bloggosphere about the struggle of hunger.  I thought I'd do a quickie post about what to do when you're feeling hungry all of a sudden, how to manage those feelings and help truly feed your body so it feels balanced and satisfied.

1.  Eat your freakin' breakfast.  

I know, you are going to say, "I don't LIKE breakfast," or "I'm too busy for breakfast," but it doesn't matter.  Especially if you're working out in the morning.  Why on earth would you try to drive your car with no gas in it?  Well, that's what you're doing.  You're running on fumes first thing in the morning.

So, pack in a healthy breakfast that is full of protein and fiber.  Best bet?  Oatmeal with berries.  Do a really simple and easy weight control oatmeal packet (7g protein, 6g fiber) that you can do up in the microwave while you get dressed.  Throw it into a thermos with 1/2 cup of raspberries, and you've got an extra 4 grams of fiber, and you can down it on your way to the gym.

If you're not active in the morning, it doesn't have to be so intense.  A light yogurt and some fruit would be just fine.  Or even just some fruit.  But, I'm telling you - there's absolutely no way you should work out on an empty stomach.  You will pay for it later.

This is just a simple bowl of oatmeal with sliced 1/2 banana, some ground flaxseed and a tablespoon of almond butter.  It clocks in right around ~320 calories if prepared with water.

2.  If you feel hungry, drink water.  You're probably dehydrated.  

Well, it's true.  Your body will mistake dehydration for hunger.  Take your body weight, divide it in half.  That's the bare minimum number of ounces of water you should be drinking each day.  For me, that means I need to be drinking 80oz of water a day.  That means TEN 8 ounce glasses.  The good news?  Lots of things count.  Water.  Water with lemon or lime.  Crystal light.  Tea.  And yes, coffee.  (They say coffee can be dehydrating, but seriously?  It's water through a filter thing.  It counts.)  Lots of die-harders will tell you that you should be drinking your water pure and clear first, then drinking other stuff, but for me that's just not realistic.  I think the primary concern for anyone who isn't taking in the right amount of water is to get the numbers up.  Then, work on the quality. ;)

Please note:  If you're working out, you should be drinking more water than a person who isn't active.  You need to replenish your body with water that you've been sweating out.  Drink water, water, water.

3.  Did I mention FIBER?  Do up the soluble-ness.

Soluble fiber expands in you and makes you feel full.  It's also key to good bowlie health, so do it up.  I am a fiber freak.  This means, pack in the oats, broccoli, whole wheat bread, carrots.

Fiber tip:  A really simple way to get tons of fiber in your diet is to chop up that stuff and put it in your salads. Plus, all the color and texture variety will make your salad way more interesting to eat.  It takes two seconds to add 1 cup of broccoli to a salad.  Delish!

4.  Don't be afraid of fat.

Yes, we should avoid the nasty saturated fat monster.  But eating healthy fats is not only good for your hair, skin and nails, but it's also been proven to keep you feeling full longer.  Fat makes you feel satisfied.  So, if you feel during the afternoon like a ravenous beast and you want nothing more than to attack your local deli... try 1/2 an avocado, 4oz of salmon,or 1oz of cashews.  Natural, healthy fats are the way to go.  You'll feel satisfied and you'll be getting those really good fats in your body.

Salmon with cucumber salsa and some baked baby potatoes.

5.  Protein is King.

Don't overdo it, but aim for protein making up 30% of your daily nutrients.  (I'm working on this one myself.)  Folks with this percentage of protein intake have been shown to eat an average of over 400 calories less in a day.  It satiates and lasts (along with fiber) the way carbs just will not.  Your body burns through carbohydrates in about two hours, so give it something else to hold on to, like almond butter on your whole wheat bread, or lean turkey with your grapes.

Protein tip:  Of all meats, chicken (skinless, grilled) holds the biggest protein punch for the least calories!

6.  Spread it out.

Your body burns through food.  That's what your fuel source is.  So, if you're having huge gaps during the day where you're not eating anything, you're setting yourself up to want to overeat at night.  Keep easy snacks with you if you're on the go all the time.  Keep nuts in your car.  Pack a little cooler lunch box with you for the whole day if you're gonna be gone for most of it.  And don't just do a sissy little string cheese, but make sure to get real snacks in there.  Pre-make a wrap with tons of sprouts and lettuce, hummus and a little grilled turkey.  Cut it in half:  two days worth of awesome snackage.  Or do almond butter and whole wheat bread, or pita chips with hummus.  Make sure you're maximizing your fuel input.  And every time you feel hungry, DRINK WATER.  :)  Don't let more than 3-4 hours go without eating a little something.

When you're doing soup, be sure it's light and preferably, lower sodium.  The Progresso Light soups are between 60-80 calories per serving.  Nice and easy, 'cause one bowl is one serving!  Soup also helps fill you up.  Be sure to make your sandwiches with whole wheat bread, and pack on the spinach for the maximum nutritional boost.  Use mustard instead of mayo to save unwanted calories and unhealthy fats.

Hopefully these tippy doo dads help you guys out.  <3



Panty Buns said...

Thanks. I have a real problem with the craving to fill my belly right before I try to sleep. I'm struggling with it as I write this despite knowing I am heavier and overdue to take photos of myself for promised outfit posts. The fruit and water are good suggestions. My habits have been more like eating a full day's worth right before bed despite having nibbled all day. I don't drive much or have nuts in the car but there are plenty in my head. I think I'll have some of that water right now.

Lauren said...

Great post - thanks for sharing the tips! :)


Chubby McGee said...

Ooh! Ooh! Don't forget the protein in veggie substitutes! You get veggies, protein, and few calories in veggie alternatives to burgers, bacon, sausage, etc.! AND they're filling due to all the fiber and such they have. I'm amazed at how quickly I can get my vegetarian butt all the protein I need (and then some)...sometimes even before dinner. If sodium or manufactured food is an issue then you can always make your own veggie patties and such, too...for control. They're just as good as the brands at the store.

looloolooweez said...

Something else a lot of dieters don't think about it getting ENOUGH food. You have to be aware of your RMR and minimum caloric intake need for the day. Sometimes people on "crash diets" are actually on starvation diets. So if one is actually hungry, not just fighting a craving or tempted by emotional eating, maybe its a sign that one's body does actually need more food.

Unknown said...

I can totally relate to the snacky feeling as well. Thanks for this post, very informative :)

C said...

sometimes at night I think I start wanting a snack just because I am cold- so I put on a sweater and have a hot drink- I love fat free no sugar cocoa, but herbal tea or any decaf drink would be just as good. Sometimes just getting up and forcing myself to do some little chore -toss something in the laundry, hang up a coat, put something in recycling- gets me moving and makes me feel less "snacky."

Crysi said...

I so want to good avocado right now. I could live on roasted/baked yams, avocados and grilled chicken and be perfectly happy. Maybe some plain greek yogurt with frozen berries to mix it up and my life would be fabulous.

Runnergirl said...

I'm sorry, but I disagree with point 1 - I always work out on an empty stomach - if I don't, I feel really nauseous - moreso than I do normally. I eat afterwards.

Claire Dawn said...

Nice! I agree with runner girl. With the caveat that you should fill up as soon as you're done working out.

I avoid overeating since my house is freezing cold and I don't want to move from my spot under the heated table. One of the few perks of Japanese winter.

Veronica said...

I actually saw something on a local news network that said people who work out first thing in the morning, before breakfast, actually lose more weight. I'm not saying don't have your coffee or whatever else you need to get you motivated, but don't fill your tummy and then try to go jogging. I can never work out after having eaten, so this was fabulous news for me.

Shan said...

Great tips! Do you ever go through a faze where nothing (as in food) sounds good? I think these ideas just helped me get out of that rut. Thanks for the ideas!