In Nutrition

Is Your Hunger Really Hunger or is Something Else Not Filling You Up?

Do you find by the end of the day, even if you’ve been “good” all day, you could clean out the junk you have stashed in your cupboard? You know, the stuff you tell yourself you have to keep on hand because the kids need it (really? More on that another day) and the things you don’t want to throw away! (because that’s more wasteful than if you eat processed food with preservatives and additives in it?)

fat woman measuring her stomach

Whatever temptation you’ve left yourself – almost guaranteeing that you’re going to eat it – when you’re willpower is weak and your cravings are strong there’s trouble.There is of course the possibility that you’re dehydrated. You didn’t sleep well last night and today’s elevated cortisol levels are slowing the metabolism and causing those cravings.

I’m talking about something else. What happens with many women who get started on a path to change is that they are fighting something stronger than behavior change for better eating and exercise habits.

There’s a lingering feeling of deprivation, need to be “good,” and then after you have reached the end of the day and made it to that proverbial end of the tunnel, you cave.

It’s not your fault.

It is faulty thinking.

A few things are going on with this that you can’t control:

#1. You have a limited amount of willpower. If you’ve really not had what you wanted or believed you couldn’t all day long, you have leaked willpower out of your cup. By the time you hit the threshold to home you’re probably going to stand at the refrigerator and much. Maybe it’s that you find the bag of chips in the pantry and sit in front of the TV numbing from the effects of the day. It’s someone inevitable, especially if you didn’t have a plan

An older woman with a smile on her face, stretching out her body.#2. Your cortisol level is probably out of your control. You don’t have enough to get through the day. It’s not that it’s too high necessarily. It may be too low. Let’s say you were “being good” and avoided carbs all day long. You don’t need many in the am, you begin to need more in the afternoon. By evening you really should be having your “most” potentially if you’re wired and yet exhausted. You can look forward to that. You also may not have gotten enough fat all day long. Say at every meal, on purpose. Adding avocado, nut butter, coconut or coconut oil to your smoothie, for instance is a good start to keeping you satisfied. If your protein levels aren’t high enough at breakfast and then at lunch, the chance you’ll crash and burn with chips or whatever is available is far greater.

#3. If you’re not loving your job or not speaking your truth, you’re going to feel like you’ve done something all day that you hate and “deserve” a treat. Toxins come in all styles. They aren’t just in the food we eat and the products we use. Toxic environments can conjure up big issues within you.

How Can You Flip The Switch for Less “Hunger” and More Satisfaction?

1. Start with a high protein breakfast and add fat and fiber.

One of my favorite ways to start the day is with (OK, post coffee) a small snack before exercise: breakfast one. It might be nut butter on brown rice cake or half a banana.

Then post workout – My favorite smoothie is Chocolate Your Whey protein powder with almond/coconut milk blend, sweet cherries, ice, avocado and a bit of spinach. I add a little bit of this and a little bit of that to increase nutrients and fiber: chia seeds and or ground flax. Creamy and delicious like a chocolate shake at Swaney’s Drugstore back in the day.

2. Have a high power protein lunch with a bit more carb.

You want clear thinking; not to fall asleep! Try adding ¼ cup of beans to your salad with a protein source like salmon or chicken. Use a homemade dressing as simple as oil and vinegar or one that’s a little more creamy that uses tahini.

3. Optional: be ready with a snack.

Don’t let the craving hit you unprepared. Keep sunflower seeds or almonds with you. Got a refrigerator? Keep boiled eggs handy. Hummus and veggies work. Ignoring your craving doesn’t work. Hunger is not a sign you’re losing weight. Myth. If it’s been 3-4 hours since your last meal, you truly may need something. Have it now and you won’t pay later.

4. Have dinner that feels rewarding already waiting.

Whether it’s in the crockpot or it’s leftovers or something you thaw and reheat, if it’s ready and waiting you will stick to the plan. Include a sweet potato, brown rice, a bowl of beans and other protein sources. The point is, have the carbs. Your lack of willpower today could be more than today. It could be the result of this vicious cycle you’re in starting with “paybacks” in the morning as punishment from last night.

Try changing the content of your meals so you’re full, satisfied and not feeling like you’re missing flavor, texture or food groups. Then…begin looking at where you’re settling in life and start doing something about it with your renewed energy.


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