Hunger vs Cravings--What I Do for Each
Monday, January 18, 2016
Hunger vs. cravings: it is the one peripheral issue that we all have to deal with at some time or another. Here is how I have learned to deal with both. Again, this does not mean that doing this will work for you but again it might. I had to learn from listening to others and trying their suggestions (some worked and some did not work) and just plain 'trial and error' on my own.
Hunger: I feel nothing works better than eating a healthy, nutritionally balanced food plan 90% of the time. I feel that it is essential for having the stamina to work out and to increase the intensity of those same work outs. I feel that it helps you stay healthy and when you are sick to decrease the intensity and duration of illness. I feel that as a woman who does experience monthly hormonal fluctuations (I am in peri-menopause) it is key in riding out those unexplained and sometimes annoying cravings. You can read another blog entry "Nuts & Bolts of my Weight Loss Plan" for more specifics but essentially a balanced food plan includes nutritionally dense foods like whole foods and reducing or eliminating nutritionally poor foods with 'empty calories' like 'junk foods'.
As for my own hunger I have found that a high protein and low carb food plan to work best. I found this out on my own and it was through observation more than anything. I do try to have a protein-carb-fat combination when having a meal and to avoid carbs alone if I choose to snack at night (I am up until 2 a.m. so eventually I am going to want something if I have eaten dinner at 6 or 7 p.m.). I like to 'supplement' whole foods with some protein replacement snacks. It is a recent choice and I find that it helps control my hunger well. I am not specifically using them to lose weight which I want to make perfectly clear. I am more concerned about controlling my hunger which I have found no amount of water or raw veggies or popcorn can do which I have tried and which did not work for me. Again, this is my personal choice and I am not promoting it for weight loss.
Cravings: My two 'biggies' are pizza and chocolate. I know that I could eat pizza twice a day for at least a month before I would get tired of it. I have tried many of the suggestions offered from other people who have this same struggle. This has been my compromise. When I am craving pizza (and you know nothing else will do) I have a thin crust with light sauce and light cheese loaded with vegetables. It has actually become my favorite and it can be very filling(thanks to the cheese).
As for chocolate: I have experimented over the years and I have found that 70% cocoa dark chocolate covers the most ground with the least amount eaten. I can be satisfied with 2 squares (or 1/2 a single serving). When that is not available and I really try to have it on hand (much like I do my first aid kit) then I find that sugar free chocolate candy (be careful though because I have found the sugar alcohols to cause a lot of flatulence), sugar free fudge pops and sugar free pudding to really satisfy that chocolate 'desire'.
Which brings me to other 'substitutions' that work for me. After a while of eating solely on plan I began to miss some of my old 'favorites': potato chips and fast foods are two that come to mind. Recently, again on one of my favorite weight loss sites that offer high protein/low carbs foods, I have found a protein snack that does satisfy my enjoyment of potato chips. My favorite flavor is dill pickle. When I want the 'fast food' meal I can usually replicate that by having a ground sirloin burger with loads of raw vegetables, the protein chips(aforementioned) and if I really want to have a shake, I will have one of my protein meal replacement shakes (fat free milk added to thicken it). There are gazillion (no exaggeration) modified recipes here on and all over to help you modify some of your favorite foods. There is no reason why you can not enjoy your food nor have some of your former favorites modified to a healthier version.
Following these modifications above have allowed me to eat healthy and not become bored with my food choices. The sky is the limit and your own creativity is the only thing stopping you from finding out what works for you.
P.S. If you noticed I also am not including a lot of foods that take a lot of meal preparation. I am both a good cook and I love to cook but because I am unable to stand more than 10 minutes I have also had to adapt my weight loss plan to include a lot of foods that I call 'grab n go". When I am not wanting to prepare an elaborate meal I make sure that I have plenty of food choices that I can 'grab n go'. It really helps when I have forgotten to eat (I do) or I am rushed and/or too lazy to cook. This is another 'tool' in my weight loss tool box that has saved me many times from both overeating or eating the wrong foods.
Speaking of which, if you want to feel like you are on top of your 'game' with both of these; hunger and cravings, it really pays to plan ahead and anticipate that both of these will come up and usually when you least expect them to. Being prepared will help you avoid overeating or eating foods not on your plan (unless you have planned to have them). Finally, what I have learned the hardest way possible is: do NOT have foods not on your food plan in your immediate reach. I am a person of strong will in many areas of my life but when it comes to some of my former favorites, I become weak in the knees at their sight or presence. What has consistently worked for me over the years (and allowed me to keep off 50 lbs. 5 1/2 years) is the rule of thumb: "Out of sight and out of mind". IF you can, then my hat goes off to you but I know my limitations and that is one of them.
So, there is how I am staying on plan today. As time evolves this entry will probably be updated with more 'what works". Here is to staying on track happily and not begrudgingly.