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Monday, 01 February 2016 12:11

How to Ease Diet Hunger Pangs

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If you are a casual dieter who just needs to lose 10 lbs, chances are it's due to a recent binge eating event, and not unhealthy lifestyle. But even casual dieters will likely encounter hunger pains. Always consult a doctor before making a change to your diet!

California Medical Weight Management treats patients who are overweight and obese. As part our our medical weight management system, patients may receive appetite suppressants prescribed by their physician.

The tips below will help you deal with hunger pains that are familiar to every dieter. The tips are divided into three categories: physical, mental/emotional and behavior modification. We assume you are already practicing the best diet by eating a good breakfast, not skipping meals, getting plenty of rest, and drinking enough water.

3679725092 6c51809335 oDieting Tips for Overcoming Hunger Pangs

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Have a light snack (vegetable, fruit, nuts)
  • Chew a piece of sugarless gum (not recommended)
  • Measure portions accurately, not by the handful
  • Think about something besides eating
  • Identify your snack triggers
  • Respond intellectually to your desire to eat - establish a reward system
  • Congratulate yourself for moving closer to your goal (reinforcement)
Behavior modification:
  • Replace snack time with something productive (exercise, chores)
  • Have a support system
  • Be accountable

The physical approach:

When your stomach is empty, it shrinks, causing an unpleasant hunger sensation. For dieters, it's okay to have a snack to tide you over to the next meal. One or two bites of healthy food (fruit, vegetable, nuts) is enough to conquer most hunger pangs. I recommend avoiding sugarless-type candies and gum, because they are less healthy, and may increase sugar cravings.

The psychological approach:

If you're used to overeating, it's mentally difficult to overcome the pattern of established eating habits. To complicate matters, eating is sometimes associated with an emotional comfort response. So we need to look at ways to break unhealthy eating habits.

Understand the problem intellectually: You know you need to lose 20 lbs. Your best motivation is to lose weight for health reasons.

Your best motivation is to lose weight for health reasons.

Know your BMI, and what your healthy weight should be. Do your homework and count calories. Plan meals within your calorie budget. Use spices to make meals interesting. Check your weight daily on a bathroom scale.

If you're too lazy to count calories, another common approach is to substitute healthy foods for unhealthy ones; for example, substitute beans for processed starches (macaroni, noodles). And bulk up on salads.

If you have emotional eating triggers, identify those triggers and avoid them. Snacks within easy reach on the desktop, coffee table or kitchen table are a no-no! Track your eating habits and try to identify those times when you eat without thinking (grazing).

A non-food reward system is a great psychological motivator for dealing with short-term hunger pangs. Establish diet milestones and reward yourself with something of value. Continued rewards encourage dietary compliance, which eventually will become a good eating habit.

The behavioral approach:

Serious dieters understand the long-term approach to dieting. Eventually we will need to drop our unhealthy eating habits. But this doesn't have to be accomplished in a day. We can start making small changes in order to build motivation.

To combat hunger pangs, take a walk outside, or distract yourself with some other healthy activity (chores, exercise). Avoid sitting for long periods. In this way you can begin to substitute small healthy behaviors.

Long-term maintenance has been shown critical to diet success. To put it another way, when we cheat on our diet, we're only cheating ourselves. Long-term maintenance includes two key factors: support and accountability. A status update on Facebook saying "I just lost 10 lbs!" along with a photo of your salad can be the first step in establishing a support community.

If you find yourself slipping in your diet, go back to step 2, the psychological approach. You may have forgotten to reward yourself for your success. Retrace your steps and get back on the wagon. Remember, your health and your family's health are your motivations.

To learn more about medical weight management, visit California Medical Weight Management at

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