Thanks to the great Homer Simpson I think we can all relate to fearing the word diet more than the word die.
Successful long term dieting is one of the hardest things we will face in this life.
Adherence is key. We are told this often enough but rarely is it explained to us in a way we can understand.
What really is diet adherence?
In my opinion it is eating in a way that is specific to your goal (body composition, sporting, health etc), that is not too far removed from your current way of eating.
Sounds straight forward in theory, but in practise it really is not.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition stated that;
Dietary intervention success requires strong participant adherence.
So what can be do to help ourselves keep on track?
We know extreme hunger on a diet can suck balls.
And the balls you will be sucking will no doubt be deep fried and wolfed down with minimal guilt. It will of course be a case of your diet has failed you and no way could you of failed your diet.'We know extreme hunger on a diet can suck balls!' - Eoin Murphy Click To Tweet
Hunger will drive you to over eat. That will hamper your fat loss loss efforts.
Whats more, feeling like you are struggling to stick to your diet will hamper your ability to adhere to your diet.
Nobody wants to feel like a failure!
So how do we figure out how to stuff ourselves with lovely food, that does not blow our calories, and leaves us feeling like we are winning the fat-loss fight.
Understanding that certain foods fill you up more than others is a key place to start!
The Satiety Index
The satiety index is an index made in dietary heave that will give you a frame work to figure out why 500 calories of your favour cereal does not have the same effect on you as 500 calories of brussel sprouts. The science is quite equivocal on the fact that while a calorie is a calorie, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association say that:
..foods, and more specifically macronutrients, with the same caloric content exert different effects on satiation and satiety independent of their caloric value.
Ok so that is the ground bases of the ground done. In no uncertain terms different foods will do different things to you and how you chose these foods will ultimately determine your ability to adhere to any form of eating.
Armed with this basic knowledge will hopefully leave you ready to march into no mans land start battling this dreaded hunger demon. Let’s get to it – how can you stop feeling hungry?
Top 10 Ways To Defeat The Hunger Demons & Stop Feeling Hungry
1. Eat more fibrous foods
That in normal speak is foods high in fibre.
Fibre is insoluble in the body so it must pass through you and reach its final watery destination. Fibre is generally found in most fruits and vegetables. Beans can help bolster your fibre intake also and even some protein bars boast generous amounts in the last few years.
Check labels and google foods if in doubt to which option is the fibre win.
2. Eat more protein rich foods
Filling, predominantly lower in calories in comparison to carb and fat rich foods, protein is a dieters choice. Usually not that hyper palatable also (you don’t usually lose the head and binge on boiled chicken breasts or tins of tuna).
Need some high protein meal inspiration? Go here: High Protein Recipes
You even burn up to 25% of the calories contained in the source as you digest it so you are helping your calorie deficit without hurting your intake. Hunger can be kept that bay while simultaneously creating the building blocks for a body worthy of a nudie beach.
[RELATED: Can High Protein Diets Help You Lose Weight?]
3. Eat high volume/low calorie foods
Your stomach needs filling. It usually tells your brain to put the oven on and get working on a feast worthy of a king. When its full it sends on a message to ease off and start settling into the Netflix of the day.
That signalling is very important to reduce the volume of the hunger demons screaming out for more. Literally filling the stomach up with big foods that don’t contain a huge amount of calories really helps here. I am not suggesting ingesting a good whack of no more nails filler to get the job done.
I am talking about salads, stir fry’s, fruits, sugar free jellies. Think of the size of 100 calories of butter compared to 100 calories of cauliflower. A thumb versus a bucket. Fill your stomach with voluminous foods and hear the hunger demon no more.
4. Have your emergency foods ready
If the demon takes over and you must have something now, something sugar filled, fat laden and salt infused what do you do?
This scenario is not avoidable. Life gets in the way and things will happen you cannot prepare for. Looking for the number of the local Chinese take away is not the answer.
Having some simple, easy to stock pile and easy to store snacks is key to a last ditch effort against the demon.
Things like tins of fruit, sugar free mints, protein bars and cans of your favourite diet drink (no, diet coke is not bad for you) are all just enough to keep you from imploding if you are tittering on the edge of dieting destruction
5. Chose caffeine for the win
Whether it be coffee, green tea or delicious diet drinks this in theory is a simple one. Caffeine is a stimulant. Hungry while being an unpleasant feeling, can also leave some feeling lethargic and crying for some energy.
Chose caffeine in coffee form and you will also get some stomach fill due to the volume of water required to make your cup of Joe (espresso need not apply).
6. Engineer a sleep routine
This one is huge. Let me say it again. This one is huge. We know from the research a lack of sleep can lead to your finely tuned “eat good food, not shit food” habits going clean out the window .
Do what you can with the environment you live in to promote a sleep routine that gives you on average 7-8 hours most nights of the week. Yes I know shift work will make this impossible. Yes I know small children shockingly don’t care about your bikini body efforts.
Do what you can with what you have. Even 10-15 minutes extra a few nights a week can be enough to get the ball rolling and you snoring for longer.
7. Become aware of the office danger zones
Mary from accounting has gotten engaged. Isn’t that lovely and oh would you look at that, she has brought in cupcakes for everyone to celebrate with.
Dan from marketing is leaving to finally peruse his dream of opening a coconut water café. Everyone is meeting him this Friday for farewell drinks and pizza.
Joan from the cubicle beside you doesn’t like week days so brings in a corner shops worth of jelly’s with her everyday to ease the day. Joan’s mindless eating is only rivalled by her desire to share.
The office environment is anti good food choices and anti diet. Add stress to any situation and the whole “I am working so hard, I deserve this cake/bar/pizza” comes to a head.
Nudge economics tells us external influences can trigger positive and negative behaviours in those who come into contact with them. One of the most famous studies in this realm by Mindless Eating expert Prof Brian Wansink looked at how the visibility and proximity of Hersheys Kisses affected their consumption among a group of females.
When they were within reach more were eaten. And when they were visible, more where eaten. When they were visible and within reach, well I need not paint you a picture but the kisses were no more.
Make sure as much as possible the sweets and celebratory snacks around the office are at the very least out of sight and out of reach.
Prep Like A Boss
Another useful strategy in your dieting efforts in the workout is to prep. Invest in Tuppware and online protein bar deals. Having fail safes ready to hand when Mary decides to once again tie the knot could be enough for you to maybe just sample her oh so unkind treats.
The difference between a genuine small sliver of cake (100-200 calories) and a “real slice” could be the making or breaking of your diet right there. Even if you feel cheated on the sweet front, have a stash of your favourite chocolaty protein bar and maybe even some super sweet fruit such as mangos at hand.
If in an office dieting emergency, break glass, unwrap the bar and consume as quick as possible.
The office danger zones will always exist so accepting that adding hunger to a stressful work environment will lead to poor choices now and again. Just make sure one bad moment doesn’t lead to a week of excess and overload.
8. Choice architecture
Similar to the office dynamic of the visibility and proximity of foods and your ability to resist temptation, the same will apply to your home stead.
When dieting your preoccupation with food and the amount you are consuming will increase. This is normal and something that you must take into account when doing your food shop and how you set up your kitchen for dieting success.
A simple analogy of how choice architecture can affect you would be to think about how likely are you to eat a freshly baked brownie that is sitting on your kitchen table, lovingly made by your significant other and smelling sweeter than an Irish soccer victory.
On the other hind how likely are you to eat a bag of pears that are hidden somewhere in the back of one of your cupboards. You are also starving as you worked through lunch to meet a deadline. Its also a Friday and you are zapped. It will probably be long after your finish your take away kindly brought to you by Deliveroo that you even remember you thought about eating the pears in a moment of madness.
In this incidence your choice architecture was not ideal for offsetting ravenous hunger.
Setting obstacles in your way when these occasions come up is key. Train or exercise after work for the physical and mental unwinding.
Have you emergency prepared meals at hand to offset any ravenous behaviour. Even researching all the the take aways in your locality to source a relativity lower calorie option could be a great fail safe if you really need it.
9. Energy saving decision making
Making decisions about not eating this, not drinking that and what exercise or training you will do each day will cost you energy. Energy you need to stave off the hungry while on a diet.
The weekly food shop can be the make or break of your good decision making for the following week. Gather yourself for the hour or so you will be walking the isles and fill that trolley with high protein foods, veg, fruit and low calorie versions of all the foods you love to eat. The decisions you make during this time will determine if the hunger demon catches you later in the week or not.
10. You will be hungry sometimes and that is ok
A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat
A feeling and a desire. Discomfort and weakness. That is what hungry is defined as.
However those feelings are the short lived and may not last if you can just hold out. Accept that those feelings may not be real and something else could be triggering them is important. They may be being triggered by your environment or how you are reacting to a perceived stressor.
You are on a diet for a reason. Weather it is for purely health reasons or for a beach body worthy of the sandy shores of Majorca, focusing on the positive outcomes may be your ultimate tool in fighting the hunger demon into submission.
A bit like Dracula, while the demon can be beaten in the moment, he will never truly go away.
Recognise the times he rises up most and have your preparations in place.
He may win the odd battle but understanding the war is long will ensure you prevail in the end.