If you're like most Americans, your relationship with your weight is uneasy. You go on juice diets and try to ignore your growling stomach for weeks at a time. Ultimately, you give in to the cravings and over-eat for several days. Then you resolve to start up another diet and hop back on the hamster wheel. If you're willing to follow some simple advice for feeling satiated while cutting calories, you can put that cycle behind you and lose weight for good.
First, you have to understand what makes your stomach feel full. It sounds simple, right? You put food in your stomach, and then you feel satiated. The hard part is figuring out which foods give you that full feeling but don't overwhelm your calorie count.
Your stomach pays a lot of attention to volume. When you eat a large enough amount of food, you feel full. That means bulky, low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables will make your stomach just as happy as a T-bone steak or bowl of ice cream. If your diets always fail because you feel overwhelmed by hunger, it's time to take a hard look at what you're putting on your shopping list. Are you reaching for whole foods, cooking from scratch, and eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day? Or are you putting low-fat processed snacks in your cart then going home, unwrapping a thimble-sized chocolate muffin, and expecting it to fill you up?
Second, you'll have to change your eating habits. You're already planning to go on a diet, so you should be prepared for this step. Instead of swapping pasta for salad and candy bars for yogurt, take your diet plan further. Commit to eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day, including breakfast. Your stomach digests food in a few hours. If you're eating lunch at noon and dinner at 8:00 p.m., you're going to end up hungry. You subconsciously know this already because you probably snack in the afternoon. Make sure you have satiating options like apples and peanut butter or crackers and tuna fish - you want to eat several hundred calories of fat, not fluff.
Wait a second- why is a weight-loss article recommending you eat more fat? Fat is good for your waistline. Years of weight loss advice have urged you to eat less fat for one simple reason: Fat is calorie-dense. Experts are starting to realize this same attribute makes fat a smart way to keep hunger pains at bay. Calorie-dense foods take more time to digest, so your stomach feels nice and full when you eat them. This is why your body sometimes craves oils or dairy products.
Third, you need to work in reasonable cheat meals. Your diet won't be successful if your stomach is full of leafy green vegetables but your heart is full of hamburgers and milkshakes. Cravings can be psychological, so give yourself permission for one meal per week to eat your favorite foods. For the rest of the week, try working in healthier alternatives. If you're committed to dropping pounds, you'll enjoy a turkey burger almost as much as the real thing.
Losing weight requires sacrifices. You'll have to give up your favorite calorie-dense foods, skip happy hour with your coworkers, and hit the gym instead of your couch. You should work hard, but you shouldn't be miserable. Now you have the knowledge to fight off constant hunger pains even when you're reducing calories.