Fighting off winter hunger



Hunger pangs are manageableHunger is the one thing that can ruin our best of intentions to lose weight. It creeps up on us due to poor habits, lack of proper digestion of nutrients, addiction to empty calories and even as a relief of a boring lifestyle.

Are you that person who sits at the computer munching away at the chips and lollies because you are hungry? The truth is you are not really hungry at all. The truth is that you have a poor digestive system or are addicted to sugar or salt or have hormones and chemicals not working properly in your body and that gives the message to your brain that you are hungry. Or the truth may be that you are really bored with your lifestyle and are using food to fill up that empty hole inside you which you won’t admit is even there.

Don’t worry, it’s only me writing here and you reading this article, so you can afford to be honest … right now! Why do you think you are hungry when you eat all that stuff that you know, and yes you already do know, is not good for you? What are you trying to fill up in yourself that you think is lacking? Is it not some emotional void or mental repetitive thought that you are attempting to alleviate? Don’t you reach for the chocolate and the fries and then you feel better?

The truth is you don’t want the food, you want something else that you are hungry for. What that is though may be covered up by the mountains of food that you are pushing down that is really bad for you. We tend to do this even more in winter months using the excuse that the cold weather is making our hunger even worse.

So what can we do to alleviate this problem, especially now when it is cold and it’s harder to wake up in the mornings and sometimes harder to get to the gym? There is no easy answer for that; you simply have to get out there. You need to go do your exercise, get in the car and meet those friends or even go join a new group. Don’t let the winter dark and cold put you off. Even if you need to use public transport, rug yourself up, take out the umbrella and head to the bus stop about 5 minutes before the bus is due. Mix with people and do new things. If there is an emotional hole you are attempting to fill with all that food that is not good for you, very soon you will be comfortable in some club or function talking to lots of people and even too involved in your discussion to think of eating all that unhealthy food. If that’s not what is missing though, and there is a physical need for sugar and addictive chemicals, then there are other things you can do to alleviate those hunger pangs.

First on the list is to never miss breakfast, no matter what ‘diet’ you are on … even though you shouldn’t be on a diet, because diets are usually bad for you. Much better to adopt a sensible eating plan and make it your way of life than do those yo-yo diets that last for six weeks, during which time you lose the weight and then go back to all your old habits.

Not having breakfast will exacerbate your hunger and lower your blood sugar. You already have lowered blood sugar in the mornings when you wake up and it is good to give your body a healthy kick start to get you going, so always have a healthy breakfast, even if it’s a small one. Everyone can grab a glass of juice as they go out the door along with a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, or even pop a piece of bread into the toaster while you go comb your hair. It’s much better though to stave off those hunger pangs with a bowl of muesli or a protein food: these will keep you full longer. Always watch your protein intake though as too much for long periods of time can put strain on your adrenal glands.

Also make sure that you have enough sleep because it has been found that people who sleep too little weigh more. Lack of sleep affects hormones related to appetite, causing you to gain weight. Furthermore, people who stay up late often get the munchies and head for the refrigerator for all those foods which they know are not good for them, or fill up with a couple of glasses of alcohol which also puts on the weight.

Of course the easiest way to stay on a healthy eating plan is to only have healthy foods in the house and make a pact that you will not get in the car at 10pm looking for snacks at the local service station.

The best thing to do at night when those hunger pangs strike is to drink water, especially before going to bed (just one glass) as it will hydrate your body while you are sleeping. It increases your resting kilojoules burn rate and also will make you feel slightly fuller.

Foods with high water content are also good for making you feel full. Salads with lettuce, cucumbers, celery and tomatoes are good. Also fruits such as watermelon, strawberries and oranges (watermelon has a high sugar content though so too much of it is not a good thing).

Spicy foods and nuts also will make for variety in your eating plan to give your palate something different and to satisfy that hunger. Trying new foods and different recipes can help you with hunger pangs because of the mental stimulation of making the recipe. Also, if you take the care to dress up your food, serve it with candles perhaps, and make a small ceremony of eating to make it special, it will take on an element of pleasure which it may not have had before. This may give you a different perception of what you are eating and perhaps satisfy you better in a different way.

Remember also that drinking different types of tea is a good way to stave off hunger pangs. Green tea, lemon and honey tea and even black teas will fill you up and make you warm, making you forget for a while those cravings for foods that are not good for you.

So hunger pangs are something we have all experienced but there are things you can do to stop yourself eating the wrong foods at the wrong time and clogging your body with toxins that will make you ill. If, however, you cannot manage your hunger pangs consult your natural therapist for a healthy eating plan and recipes, a hypnotherapist to assist you with those cravings and even an NLP practitioner to give you tools to change that pattern. There are lots of things you can do if you begin to do a bit of research.

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Jenetta Haim runs Stressfree Management at 36 Gipps Road, Greystanes, and specialises in assisting your health and lifestyle in all areas by developing programs on either a corporate or personal level to suit your needs. Jenetta has just published a book called Stress-Free Health Management, A Natural Solution for Your Health available from your favourite bookstore or online. For more information and to get in touch, visit her website.