Hunger Hacks: 4 Dietitian Approved Strategies to Manage Cravings and Stay Focused on Your Weight Loss Goals

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll know that hunger and cravings are challenging aspects that can easily put you off track. This article provides 4 strategies I use with my clients, along with practical tips to deal with hunger and cravings when trying to lose weight.

1. Hunger Score

Think about how often you eat because of genuine hunger? Now think about all the other reasons you eat.

Many of us are numb to our bodies hunger signals because there are so many other signals telling us to eat.

Being able to distinguish the difference between real hunger and these other signals can help you to learn more about your body and it’s needs. This can help you to identify when the best time is to eat, as well as act as a guide for when to stop eating.

One way to become more aware is a tool called the hunger score. It is a scale from 1-10, where 1 is feeling extremely full and 10 is feeling extremely hungry. If you’re a 7 or 8, this is a good time for a meal or snack. If you’re a 4-6, it might be a craving and doing something to distract yourself, or having a healthy snack might help.

For the full hunger score tool and guidance on how to use it, check out our downloadable version here.

2. Regular Eating

To avoid being at either end of the hunger score, eating regularly can help. Ideally, have a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to keep the hunger pangs at bay, regulate your appetite and energy levels. Many people find it difficult to eat regular meals. Perhaps you’re not feeling hungry, maybe your routine doesn’t allow you to (e.g. shift work) or it could be purely out of habit from years of skipping meals. Here are some strategies to help you eat more regularly:

  • Eat smaller portions more often to help your body get into a regular eating routine and learn to expect food throughout the day. If you can’t manage a meal, try having a small snack instead.
  • Plan out your meals and snacks and prepare some of these in advance for when you’re short on time. For example, make up a fruit pot to keep in the fridge for a handy snack or batch cook a meal and freeze some portions for later in the week.
  • Have small, portable snacks such as fruit or veggie sticks, cereal bars, nuts, rice cakes or crackers for when you’re on the go.
  • Set alarms on your phone to act as a reminder to eat.

3. No Restrictions

How would you feel if I told you that you could never eat chocolate or crisps again? If either of those are foods that you enjoy, the chances are, knowing that you can’t have it would just make you think about it and crave it even more! You might be able to rely on willpower for a while, but eventually, most people find that they cave and end up eating more than they would have if they’d just allowed themselves to have it in the first place.

No food is off limits, and there are no such thing as “good” or “bad” foods. It’s all about how much and how often. Find a way to incorporate your favourite foods into your week to reduce cravings and prevent overeating. You could use fun size chocolate bars if you find a larger bar too tempting or buy single packs of crisps instead of a share bag.

4. Snack Smart

Snacking isn’t bad. It can be a great way to eat more regularly and an opportunity to get extra nutrients in throughout the day. It’s what we choose to snack on that counts.

Snack pairing is a trick that can help with hunger and cravings. Pairing a high fibre food with a high protein food helps to manage our appetite because they both help us to feel full, and when combined work even better!

Some examples:

  • An apple and 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • Handful of berries and a pot of Greek yoghurt
  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • 2-3 oatcakes or multigrain crackers with cheese and tomato
  • Handful unsalted nuts (30g) or edamame beans
  • Protein smoothie

Losing weight is hard, but with these 4 strategies I hope that you can manage your hunger levels, curb your cravings and smash your weight loss goals.

If you feel that you would benefit from more support and guidance to lose weight, book in for a free 15 minute discovery call and explore if Empowered Nutrition is the right option for you.

Need some help reaching your goals?

I’m Emily, a registered dietitian, fitness instructor and health coach with a passion for empowering people through nutrition, not restriction.

No quick fixes. No crash diets. No wasting your time.

Let’s Talk

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