All it takes is the right mindset when it comes to intermittent fasting and dealing with hunger.
Currently, i’m not intermittent fasting but I certainly have had my fair share of hunger pangs during this diet, just wishing there was an easy way to make the fasting window easier to go through.
The most important thing that I kept reminding myself was that this “hunger” feeling that was eating away at me will pass. A lot of the times, this feeling of starvation and utter need to stuff my face with food was out of boredom and filling this void I was feeling living by myself. Eating brings us pleasure. Eating is also a social event. When we think of putting delicious foods in our mouths, we automatically salivate and the endorphins rush in. However, when we are forced to eat only in a certain window, we begin to obsess over when the next meal is and getting as much food in before the “starvation” period begins again.
However, our human bodies are very smart and can quickly adapt if we just have the right mindset. But how?
First, we need to know the difference between Physiological Hunger and Emotional Hunger.
I don’t want to go too deep into the science behind it because it can get a bit too complicated but basically, when we habitually eat our meals at certain times of the day, our bodies will be trained to get hungry at those same times because it gets used to this type of eating behaviour. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that is released to indicate to the body that you want to eat food.
For instance, if you are consistently eating at 8:00am, 12:30pm, 6:30pm, and have a late night snack at 10:00pm for a prolonged period of time, our bodies will naturally release the ghrelin hormone around the same times it’s used to eating at.
So, like they say, it takes at least 21 days to break a habit. All it takes is just a recircuiting of our brain and stomach to know when to release the hunger hormone.
How can we differentiate what is Physiological Hunger and Psychological Hunger?
So now that we know there are two types of hunger, how can we better manage those hungry feelings during the fasting window?
- Having Balanced Meals (Protein, Carbs, & Fats)
The reason why sometimes we crave more food is because we are being too restrictive and eliminating complete food groups. If we make sure our meals contain all 3 macronutrients and rich in micronutrients, our bodies will feel nourished and satisfied longer.
- Maybe you’re actually thirsty… not hungry?
Have you ever tried just drinking water? Sometimes, I noticed I was just dehydrated and needed to drink something as opposed to eating. Especially to get through the first few hours of the day, I would drink a litre of water upon waking up.
- Drink Black Coffee/Tea
I would be a little cautious with this one personally as drinking coffee/tea on an empty stomach can sometimes cause tummy upset, especially green tea. But if you can handle it, drinking coffee or tea can really help with suppressing hunger.
- Chewing Gum
Sometimes our body isn’t craving food in our stomach but just the act of chewing. So go for your favourite flavour or sugar-free gum and chomp away!
- Psyllium Husk
This ingredient is very popular amongst the IF and Keto dieters as it contains almost 0 calories and greatly helps with curbing hunger.
- Your meals should also be rich in fiber foods.
Aside from psyllium husk, your meals should also have a lot of fiber-rich foods. It’s been proven that fiber reduces the feeling of hunger. For instance, beans, nuts, vegetables, fruit, and whole grain bread are all great options!
- Exercising and Keeping Active
I’m not saying we need to all start high intensity interval training or marathon training but we do want to keep active as this will make the fasting time go by much quicker. Even if you are running low on energy, a nice walk outside with your favourite podcast/songs will get your blood flowing and happy hormones going. For me, when I don’t exercise, I actually seem to be hungrier that day because when you feel productive and working towards a goal, you don’t want to ruin it by eating more.
- Rest Well
Sometimes it’s not even about the hours because I’ve had 8 hours some night and still wake up like a zombie. But definitely, when I feel well rested and get good quality sleep, I am not as hungry that day. This is because when you are tired, you automatically resort to food for energy. When you feel awake and productive, your body naturally feels less of a need to eat.
- Brush Your Teeth
This little trick doesn’t work for everyone but I definitely feel less inclined to eat at night when I brush my teeth earlier.
It’s going to take some time before your body learns when to eat and when it’s fasting time. It’ll be a little difficult when you start but after about 4-6 weeks, your body should be well adapted to the new schedule. And the ideas I've outlined here will get you through those hard times.
If you need some food ideas to help you feeling satisfied longer, we’ve got some here for you to try :)
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