It’s 3 in the afternoon. Lunch ended 3 hours ago. Dinner’s not for another 3 hours, and you’re starving! Today I’m providing you with a checklist that will help you battle the hunger-monster when it arrises.
Step 1) Go drink 12oz of water. Right now.
Seriously, turn off your phone, go find some water, and drink it right now, before you read even one more line of this article. Just having water in your stomach will alleviate hunger 90% of the time. You’ll feel better almost instantly!
Step 2) Chew some (sugar free) gum, or brush your teeth.
Often just that minty change in your mouth will curb the cravings for sweet or savory foods. You’d be surprised how well this really works! Try it!
Step 3) Get away from the food
Out of site. Out of mine is a legitimate strategy. Don’t torture yourself by having all the delicious snacks in sight. Put them away. Distance yourself from the situation, if you can.
Step 4) Distract yourself.
Most people find that the distraction of being engaged in a task is enough to take away hunger (even if it’s legitimate hunger, and not just boredom). Get out of the house. Go for a walk. Go for a drive. Take care of a chore. Clean something. Organize something. Write something. Anything to move around and not just sit.
Step 5) If you’re watching TV, or sitting in front of a computer, you don’t get to eat!
This is the single most important battle against “boredom hunger”. If you’re feeling ‘hungry’ while doing basically nothing, odds are you’re not hungry at all — you’re just bored. See #2.
And for heaven’s sake, get out of the kitchen and get yourself somewhere safe!
Step 6) Eat one of your planned “hunger snacks”.
I would typically budget for 1 to 2 of these a day in my meal plans. These consisted of extremely low calorie (but highly satiating) foods that I would save for those times of day when I was legitimately feeling hungry (read: the times when I made it past steps 1, 2, and 3 above and was still physically uncomfortable).
Examples of such foods: Broccoli, eggs, greek yogurt, shirataki noodles, and protein shakes.
All of these foods are either high in fiber, or high in protein. Both will make you feel full faster, longer, and without serious calories.
Since they’re already built into your meal plan, you can choose when to use them.
Step 7) Re-evaluate your meal plan
Are you planning for snacks at the right time? Are you hitting your protein goal every day? Are you planning for highly-satiating foods during your meals? Take a serious accounting of how you’re planning your meals and try to use foods that will make you feel fuller, longer. Make sure you’re hitting your protein goal every day, and spread out the protein intake throughout the day so it’s balanced between your meals.
Hunger is usually the result of boredom, or poor planning
There’s absolutely no reason to be hungry when you’re eating a balanced diet that’s relatively low in carbs (a diet heavy in carbs will make hunger worse), is high in protein (stabilizes blood sugar, reduces cravings, and makes you feel full longer), high in fiber, and plans for appropriate snacks throughout the day!