I started 2024 on a health kick, and I know I’m not the only one! As the new year commenced, like many of you, I set off on a health journey filled with good intentions. My goal? To reignite my intermittent fasting mission. However, my commitment lasted a week. Why? The insistent feeling that breakfast was a must, sabotaging my willpower. Feeling hungry is a genuine stressor for me, and I bet many of you can relate, making the initial weeks of a diet a real challenge.
Now, I’m on a mission to find the root cause of my hunger, seeking to regain control. But the catch is that feeling hungry comes from so many different stimuli that contribute to this persistent feeling. The silver lining? Long-term success in any weight-loss plan hinges on finding satisfaction in our meals. Hunger starts with the consumption of food or drink.
Understanding The Growl
That unmistakable growl and gnawing sensation occurs when the stomach is empty, triggering ghrelin, the hunger hormone. It originates in the stomach, stimulating the appetite center in the brain. Yet, factors like inadequate sleep, emotional states, or, in my case, boredom, can influence ghrelin levels. Like clockwork at 3pm, my body craves sugary delights.
Breaking The Habit Loop
To crack the code, I’ve turned to keeping a food and mood diary, documenting every morsel and sip alongside my emotions. The goal? Uncover emotional triggers for my eating habits. Armed with this knowledge, I can devise strategies – exercise or non-food rewards – to understand my emotions without reaching for snacks. Routine often tricks me into thinking I’m hungry. During workdays, the illusion of needing breakfast persists, yet on weekends, engrossed in back-to-back gym classes, I forget about food until 3pm.
It seems our bodies, designed for intermittent nourishment, often clash with our modern constant-access-to-food lifestyle. Tuning into genuine hunger signals becomes a challenge. So, how can we discern if our body truly needs fuel?
True Hunger Vs. Cravings
Genuine hunger finds satisfaction in wholesome meals like vegetables, fish, and wholegrain rice. If not, cravings for sugary, fatty foods persist, even after a healthy meal. The key to controlling hunger lies in consuming the right foods the right way. As our environment nudges us toward obesity, science pulls us back. Knowing how to stay fuller for longer is paramount to successful weight-loss.
When my water intake is lacking, I transform into a walking cloud of sluggishness and lethargy. Believe it or not, I’ve been guilty of confusing thirst with hunger in the past. But I know that water is key to getting rid of this foggy state. Downing ample water keeps my energy levels up, but also plays a trick on my sneaky hunger pangs. It’s great for feeling full and vibrant, so I’m making sure to stay hydrated.
Don’t Always Fight The Fat
Not all fats are the enemy when it comes to weight management. In fact, fats rich in mono- and polyunsaturates tackle hunger head-on. They team up to curb those voracious appetites, put the brakes on stomach emptying, and even hit pause on the signal for more food. So, I choose olive oil, nuts, and oily fish.
Fill Up On Fibre
Fibre triggers the release of a chemical called PYY, which, in turn, works its wonders in reducing those pesky hunger pangs. My plate is often loaded with fresh veggies (kale takes the spotlight), unprocessed grains, and legumes.
Eat More Protein, And Eat It First
I’ve turned to eating more protein, particularly from sources like lean meat and eggs. Incorporating protein into my first meal of the day has a fantastic side effect. It elevates the levels of the amino acid tyrosine, which fights against sugar cravings.
No More Junk Food
Processed foods give me a rapid sugar high, followed by a slump, which often has me reaching for more. So when I’m out and about, I often take a packed lunch now.
In the pursuit of well-being, I’ve learned that it’s not about strict diets or deprivation; it’s about understanding and nourishing our bodies. Hydration has emerged as a simple solution, and the right fats help me in the fight against hunger. Fibre, and protein are also helping me fight off sugar cravings.
I’m of the mindset that it’s small, sustainable changes that will make a lasting impact. So, I just keep going as a new mum over 40.