While I don’t believe in starving yourself to lasting weight loss, I do believe that experiencing the feeling of hunger from time-to-time is beneficial.
Because what most of us perceive as hunger is not true hunger, but merely time passing (ie the clock telling us to eat, rather than the body), boredom, emptiness in the digestive system, discomfort in the stomach, or a sense of loneliness.
When you eat for these and a multitude of other reasons that aren’t true hunger you begin to break your ability to know and feel true hunger, and to know when you’ve had enough, and you disrupt the signaling of leptin, the satiety hormone.
Continuing to eat despite not being hungry, being too full, or because you have no leptin regulation can become problematic as it becomes easier to overeat, to snack, to reach for poor quality low-nutrient foods, and this builds up over time creating unwanted and (frequently) excessive weight gain.
Let’s be clear here, I’m not suggesting you starve yourself. I’m not implying you should go on extended fasts just to find out how much hunger you can endure.
I’m just asking you to determine whether you really are hungry, or only think you’re hungry.
Which is why I’ve come up with four ways you can test your hunger.
Ways to Reduce Hunger
After doing any of the below, check in again with your body and if the hunger is gone, it wasn’t real to begin with, or maybe it was so slight that it was able to wait awhile. If the hunger is still there, then that’s true hunger, and now it’s time to choose nutrient-rich real foods to satisfy you.
These tips for managing hunger also work if you’re on a calorie-restricted diet (for whatever reason) and can’t eat as much or as frequently as your body is accustomed to.
Find a Distraction
Distract yourself with something you love: play with your child or pet, engage in a favorite hobby, turn on some music and dance around. Or, screw that, just do something: get busy cleaning the house, do yard work, go exercise, or take a nap.
Just stay out of the kitchen and find a distraction, preferably something that can put you into a state of flow. When you’re concentrated on something you don’t notice your hunger.
Get a Hot Drink
Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so what you perceive as hunger may actually just be a need for some fluids. Going for a hot drink will have the additional benefit of warming you from the inside, which tends to reduce hunger twangs. Furthermore, warm liquids suggest to the stomach that it’s been fed, thus relieving you of the hunger feeling.
Personally, and from the many stories and testimonials we’ve received, Belight Tea is superior at curbing hunger–the signature blend of tea and herbs have nourishing and soothing qualities that keep you satisfied and ward off cravings. Plus, it’s best served hot–a double whammy!
Chinese Medicine has identified an ear acupoint that can reduce hunger, and therefore is commonly used to aid weight loss.
While you can simply pinch it for a few minutes, the best long-term results happen when small seed stickers are applied. If you don’t have those, simply press your thumb and index finger together over the small flat in front of the ear opening; hold for 10-20 seconds, release, then do the other ear. Repeat about 3-4 times or until hunger subsides.
Have you ever noticed when you get out of the water you’re starving, but when you finish a hot, sweaty workout you don’t feel hungry? Raising your core body temperature, whether with a sweaty workout, a visit to a sauna or steam room, a hot bath, or a trip to a tropical place slashes your hunger. This principle is also at work with seasonal changes: we tend to eat less during the summer because the heat oppresses false hunger, while in the winter, when you’re cold you have a much greater tendency to feel hungry and want to eat more.
When it’s winter and you need a way to get warm, pack on the layers and get your fitness on, or head to the nearest spa for some steam room time, or just take a hot bath. Getting warm will curb your hunger.
Here are the principles to keep in mind: hunger can be your friend when it is true hunger and guides you to healthy food choice. When it’s a false friend, learn to avoid it by staying or getting warm through raising your body temperature or drinking hot Belight Tea, by distracting yourself with your favorite pursuit or a nap, and by capitalizing on the wisdom of Chinese medicine acupoints.
Leave a comment below and tell us what you do to check whether your hunger is real and how you forget about it if its not.