Feeling Hungry?

Hunger is defined by an urgent need or a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food. It is not surprising that we have a negative response to hunger- some experience hunger as pain, anger or even fear. Hunger is a sensation and represents a physiologic drive to eat. Hunger signals are regulated by psychological factors, nutrient signals and hormones. Images of food, smells and even memories can trigger hunger. Changes in blood nutrients such as changes in blood sugar or amino acids (the building blocks of protein) or levels of fat circulating in the blood can signal hunger or more often the opposite sensation – a feeling of fullness. 

Hormones released by the stomach, intestines and fat cells can also signal hunger or fullness. Interestingly when people lose weight, even the right way, and for the right reasons hormonal signals fired off from the body to the brain signal an increase in MORE hunger and LESS fullness. This may be perceived as something “not right” but it is one of the body’s ways of ensuring we have enough calories to survive.

We were not created to lose weight!

Understanding this physiologic drive to eat more can help explain and understand the hunger that can come with weight loss. But that does not mean that dieters need to suffer! Here are some tips to help you feel full and less hungry while you lose weight.  

  1. Get 30 Grams- Get in 30 grams of protein per meal. Harder to accomplish for breakfast. Even eggs have only 6 grams protein per each! Consider greek yogurt and mix in whey protein for an additional 18-22 grams protein to help you reach your goal. 
  2. Don’t Skimp on Carbs- Good carbs like beans, grains and legumes provide a steady rise in blood sugar that prevent the crash that results in hunger. 
  3. Don’t Crash- stay away from processed carbs- cereals, processed bread and pastries that will quickly raise and drop your blood sugar promoting cravings. 
  4. Drink Fluids- non-caloric fluids! Sometimes we are just thirsty but think we are hungry. Make sure you are hydrated and drinking regularly. Try sparkling water, Kambucha, or brewed tea in moderation to provide variety. 
  5. Add Greens- 1 cup arugula is 2 calories! One cup spinach is 5!! Make sure half your plate is green. Doing so will take up space in your tummy leaving less room for other stuff. But watch condiments. 1 tablespoon of dressing adds 80-90 calories each!
  6. Think before you eat- we eat for many reasons. Food cues from images on TV, boredom, anxiety or socializing. Remember to check in with yourself. Are you really hungry? If not push back from the table! 

Finally be kind to yourself. If you find yourself eating more or putting back on the weight regroup and restart. It’s not a sprint! It’s a marathon!

Author
Dr. Adrienne Youdim

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