Learning to recognise hunger

When you are working towards weight loss, it is easy to obsess about food, and to feel that you are constantly hungry. Learn to understand this feeling, and follow my five simple tips to overcome it.iStock_000016807760Medium

Simply put, our bodies require a limited amount of calories per day, and anything more than that, which is not burned away through exercise, will be stored as excess fat. It is important to recognise true hunger, which will help you to make healthy choices and prevent overeating.

Here are my top five experiences that can easily be mistaken for hunger, and what to do about them.

It is all too easy to mistake boredom for hunger. Sitting in front of the television is a time when many people will snack, and it’s the most dangerous time as you don’t pay attention to portion size. If you feel inclined to watch TV, try to do something at the same time to keep your body busy. Take up an activity or craft, do chores such as ironing, or even use a hula hoop as you watch!

Feeling upset, anxious or unhappy creates a stomach-churning sensation that can be confused with hunger. This can often result in making unhealthy food choices, which can then make you feel guilty, creating a vicious cycle. Give yourself time to deal with the cause of the distress. Try my breathing technique to help calm your mind, before reaching for the biscuit tin!

  • Begin to breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth in a steady circular rhythm. If you can, close your eyes. Think of nothing but your breathing. Focus on drawing the pure air into your lungs and breathing away any stale air.
  • Continue this slow, rhythmical breathing and, as you inhale, let your stomach expand with every in-breath. Then, as you exhale, your stomach will flatten as your chest expands. Practise this breathing cycle for a while until it comes naturally.

Cravings have nothing to do with hunger, but instead are a desire for a particular taste, or in some cases, to increase certain nutrients that your body is lacking. To give some examples, craving chocolate can mean that your body needs magnesium, so try a banana, dried figs or brazil nuts. Longing for sweet foods can indicate that you need chromium, which is found in whole grains, green vegetables and tomatoes. If you learn to understand what cravings mean, you will be better equipped to deal with them and to give your body what it actually needs.

In our busy 21st Century lives, we are used to burning the candle at both ends, topping up with sugar and caffeine to stay awake longer and to achieve more. Sleep is of utmost importance, as this is when your body repairs itself. Eating late gives you a burst of energy that you don’t need, and calories that you can’t burn. This can create health problems, and interrupt or stop you from sleeping. If it is late, and you start to feel peckish, go to bed. It really is as simple as that!

Even mild dehydration can cause you to feel hungry, as well as sluggish, irritable, and unable to think clearly. This makes you more likely to seek out a sugar rush. Drinking plenty of water can give you a zero calorie energy boost as well as fill up your stomach! Add a slice of lemon, lime or orange if you prefer some flavour. For a hot drink, add fresh ginger, lemon, or mint to cleanse and hydrate. Ice cold water is not only extremely refreshing, it also gives your metabolism a boost as your body burns calories as it works to heat the water to your normal body temperature.

Learning to recognise true hunger will help you to take control of your eating habits, and take further steps on your path to a healthy and happy body!

All the best,


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