Starving: dying because of lack of food.
How often have you said "I'm starving!" when you feel a little hunger pains coming on? The word "starving", I think we can agree, is one of those extreme words. And I know for me, when I think or speak in extremes, my mind and therefore my body, begin to believe I'm dealing with the literal sense of the word. So if we think we are "starving", then panic sets in and focus goes straight to food. What am I going to eat next? When am I going to eat? How am I going to get food? Will I have time to eat? And those thoughts could then lead to unhealthy conceptions about hunger and perhaps even binge eating behaviors later, if we think food is going to be scarce. Instead, try these tips when you feel those tummy growls starting.
- Stop with the extreme thoughts. Are you truly starving? The human body can go about 21 days without food. Have you eaten in the past 21 days? Good. Because usually in any situation the worst possible outcome is death and you may be feeling hungry, but you're not dying.
- Are you truly hungry? Now that you've established that you're not moving on to the heavens, evaluate whether or not this is true hunger you're feeling. Stomach "growling" occurs when our tummies have emptied its contents into the small intestines and is now ready for more food. This typically takes 3 or more hours. When was the last time you ate? An hour or two ago? Is it possible you're bored or stressed instead?
- What was your last meal? Was it full of protein and healthy fat OR carbohydrates? Fats, protein, and fiber keep us fuller longer. If your meal was processed or carby, like cereal, bread, crackers, grains, or sugar, your blood sugar will first spike and then drop quickly - your body will think it needs food sooner. You may be feeling hungry because of WHAT you ate last. Hang tight if that last meal was carby and eat more filling protein and fat at your next meal!
- If you're more than 30 minutes out from your next meal, drink a glass of water. Wait 10 minutes and then see if that hungry feeling is still there.
- Distract yourself. Take a walk. Get up from in front of the couch and find something to do. Once your mind is off your stomach, do you still feel hungry?
Ideally, we should eat three meals per day at least four hours apart. It's normal to start to feel a little hungry before your next meal, but try taking the "I"m starving" phrase out of your head and see if that helps you extend your time between meals a little longer!