The short answer is NO. Our weight loss programme is the opposite of deprivation and misery dieting. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business if our weight losers were always hungry when losing weight. Clients would throw the towel in and wouldn’t reach their weight loss goals. That’s why we prioritise a way of eating that helps you manage and stay on top of your hunger.
The long answer is that this doesn’t mean, at times, you won’t experience a ‘normal’ level of hunger. We want our clients to get in touch with that real, natural hunger – something that they may have avoided for years, out of fear. We show them how it’s nothing to panic over and we teach them how to eat little and often so that ‘ravenous’ hunger becomes a rarity.
Many clients who come into us with a weight problem, when questioned about their eating habits, admit that they go for long periods without eating, only to later gorge on all the ‘wrong’ foods and to overeat late into the evening. This is one of the first areas that we focus on, usually with outstanding results.
Routine Hunger and How to Rate your Hunger
Routine hunger is placed around the middle of a scale ranging from one (not hungry at all) to ten (ravenous). The aim is to keep yourself between a five to seven – this is routine, normal hunger. It is when you feel ready to eat, perhaps even your stomach grumbles, but you could still hold out a little longer.
The aim then, when you do eat, is to eat just until you are satisfied, not stuffed. This sometimes takes time to get right but it all starts with serving yourself the right portion (our weight loss consultants will go through this with you – and repeat it – any time you wish). Then, when you go out to eat, you should know how much to consume. You can train yourself to do this by slowing down your eating and to take breaks. This will train your brain – and your stomach – to stop eating just at the right point.
We encourage clients to reconnect with routine hunger, and then to satisfy that hunger with high fibre foods, nutritious protein foods and antioxidant-rich, colourful vegetables. Knowing that they can eat every three to four hours goes a long way to helping abate those fears about ever becoming overly hungry.
Don’t confuse the deprivation hunger you associate with extreme diets with normal hunger. This is such an important distinction. There is such a variety of diet programmes that advocate long spells without any nourishment and yes, you’ll lose weight, you’ll definintely be hungry when losing weight but this is not advised as you will also lose muscle mass and this is to be avoided at all costs. Sadly, most participants in these programmes put the lost weight back on.
Am I Really Hungry?
Are you really hungry, or is that thirst, boredom, or some other emotion? Am I eating to keep someone else happy (lack of self-assertiveness) or just because it’s there and is expected of me (such as cake for someone’s birthday)? These are important questions to ask yourself when trying to understand your own eating habits and why you became overweight in the first place. Learning to recognise true hunger is an essential weight loss tool that you will learn at Motivation – one that will stand to you for years into the future.
At Motivation, all our clients have their ‘mental weight’ assessed on a monthly basis. This gives us a picture of their habits and attitudes in any given month. We can show clients when and if they are turning to food to deal with difficult emotions or, in fact, if they are not yet on top of managing their blood sugar levels which explains their spikes in hunger. If you are not currently a client and please accept this invite to road-test our mini-mental weight questionnaire.
The number one thing that will spike anyone’s hunger is sugar. Consuming sugar – not even the obvious type, but the sugar that is hidden in processed carbs such as scones, white bread and baguettes – will lead an individual to a seemingly never-ending cycle of hunger. That is the main reason that we reduce these foods for our clients. Also, not only are they high in calories, but we know that an excess of these foods – if not used up through exercise and movement – will quickly convert to fat.
Still Hungry after Eating?
Don’t forget the golden rule – it takes at least 15 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’re full so always wait this time (or even 20 minutes) to detect if you are still hungry (it’s unlikely if you’ve eaten the right portion of the correct foods, as detailed in your Food Plan). It’s another reason to take your time eating and to stall between courses if you’re out – nine times out of ten, if you’ve eaten a meal with protein and veggies (such as salmon with broccoli or steak with green beans), you’ll find that you don’t actually have room for dessert – luckily! Aim to be more mindful when you’re eating. Download our free ebook ‘ How Mindful Eating Helps Weight Loss’.
Don’t Forget to Get your ZZzzzs
Aim to get at least seven or, ideally, eight hours sleep a night. This may seem unimportant but a lack of sleep has numerous negative effects on the body, one of which is constant cravings. This is because sleep helps regulate the hormones that determine hunger (ghrelin) and fullness (leptin). As well as this, a lack of sleep will mean low energy (often leading to a tail off in exercise) and more mood swings (meaning turning to food in emotional eating). Getting adequate sleep can also cause the stress hormone (cortisol) to skyrocket. What better excuse to climb into bed early with a good book (no screens please – they wreck havoc on sleep)? Download and read our free Sleep Report.
“Will I always be hungry when losing weight?” is a common question in all our clinic among first time visitors. As we’ve pointed out above it’s important to reconnect with routine hunger and then to address this with a well-balanced meal. Here at Motivation we advocate, promote and administer a healthy approach to weight loss.