If you find yourself bored, stressed out or overly emotional, eating can be a soothing mechanism in the same way drugs and alcohol numb and soothe negative feelings. This kind of hunger pang does not occur because of lack of food, so you need to find an activity that diverts your attention away from food. Choose activities that make you feel good AND activities that are healthy. Consider a long bath, watching a nature documentary, treating yourself to a pedicure, or calling an old friend. Go for a walk and listen to an uplifting audio book. By taking your mind off those hunger pangs, they are likely to disappear.
FYI, a half hour bath burns 140 calories, the same as a half hour walk!
A big glass of water is often enough to put hunger pangs at bay for over an hour. And studies show that people who drink two glasses of water right before a meal eat 22% less than those who don’t. The general consensus is that about 17 oz of water stretches the stomach enough to send full signals to the brain.
Eight glasses of water a day are recommended for everyone, but if you aren’t getting enough, dehydration often shows up as hunger. Sometimes our brains can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst because the symptoms are so similar. Thirst can cause the same symptoms as hunger, like stomach pains, shaking, irritability and dizziness. Drinking lots of water is great for weight loss anyway.
Spice up your meals
Eating spices like ginger, turmeric, chill powder and cayenne increases our sense of fullness, in addition to boosting our metabolism. All of the above spices are permitted as no/low calorie seasonings on the Military Diet. Even better, these spices generate heat and may also increase the number of calories burned after a meal.
The Military Diet includes a well rounded breakfast which stops morning hunger in its tracks and prevents mid morning snacking temptation. Even when you’re not on the 3 day diet, eating a breakfast sets you up to make better decisions throughout the day and less likely to binge.
Don’t Skimp on Protein
Eating two to three ounces of protein triggers a 25 percent spike in energy and revs up fat burning in the body for four hours. The Military Diet includes protein in every meal, but make sure not to skimp on protein if you are doing the vegetarian or vegan version of the diet. And when you’re not on the 3 day diet, always opt for protein over carbs when snacking and making meal choices throughout the day.
Eat Slowly and Mindfully
Eating slowly makes you feel full and reduces the intensity of hunger pangs. When you eat quickly, or if you are distracted, it’s harder for your brain to recognize the full signals. Focus on what’s in front of you, instead of the TV or the phone. Try to experience the pleasure of the food without doing anything else while eating. When you focus on the quality of food instead of the quantity, this also helps to reduce binge eating behavior.
It might sound counter intuitive, but intense exercise actually reduces hunger and binge eating. Intense bouts of exercise like kickboxing or a spin class regulates appetite and makes you want to eat LESS later in the day. When you exercise, the hunger hormone (ghrelin) decreases, while levels of the hunger-suppressing hormone (peptide YY) spike. Vigorous exercise reduces the hunger hormone, but moderate exercise (like riding your bike to the store) does not produce the same effect.
Did you know, a spin class can actually reduce hunger?
Get Enough Sleep
People who don’t get enough sleep are hungrier than those who do get enough sleep. Lack of sleep disrupts hormone levels, meaning you can feel hungry even when your body doesn’t need food. Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin, which means more hunger. Sleep deprived people drag themselves through the day, skipping physical activity and making poor food choices like sweet lattes in the afternoon and other sugary pick me ups. Several studies link less than 6 hours a night with up to a 55% higher risk of obesity, so make sure you get enough shut eye when you’re trying to lose weight.
Reduce Your Stress
Stress raises the body’s cortisol levels. High cortisol increases food cravings and the urge to eat. In a recent experiment, participants ate an average of 22% more calories after a stressful test when compared to a non-stressful version of the same test. Finding ways to reduce your stress levels may not only help curb hunger, but also reduce your risk of obesity and depression.
Drink Tea and Coffee
Caffeine in a known appetite suppressant and an important part of the Military Diet. Green tea is some of the healthiest caffeine you can ingest. But interestingly, decaf coffee may produce the highest reduction in hunger without all the side effects of too much caffeine.
Chew low-calorie gum when you feel stomach hunger coming on. According to recent research conducted by the University of Rhode Island, chewing gum before and after meals helps reduce your hunger and the amount of calories you eat.
Brush your Teeth
For many people, brushing their teeth reduces hunger, but opinions vary on why it works. Some think the mint flavor of toothpaste cleanses the palate and signifies the end of a meal. Also, sodium laureth sulfate, a chemical in toothpaste, suppresses sweet taste bud receptors on your tongue, which is why some things taste so weird after brushing your teeth. Food doesn’t taste good after brushing your teeth, so that alone is enough to deter some people from snacking.
On your days off the Military Diet, you can manage hunger with a snack, but make sure you stick to snacks under 100 calories like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Eating nutrient rich foods instead of empty calories will satisfy your hunger longer. A protein snack is best!