Are you hungry, or are you merely craving?

11 Jan

Before I get into the heart of the topic, I want to extend my apologies if this post seems to reiterate many of the things I have written over the past couple of weeks.  I really wanted to post this article as a response to a question I saw asked in the comments of another blog, but thought it would be considered rude to post so much as a comment, so as a means of offering a little advice, I thought I’d write it up as the subject of today’s article.


Real hunger is a biological response to the amount of readily accessible energy in your bloodstream, whereas cravings are entirely psychological. It can be easy to confuse the two, because the sensation you feel centred on your stomach can seem the same, however hunger won’t go away until it is satisfied, whereas cravings can be ignored and can seem to mysteriously disappear for a while if you become distracted.

Changing your diet (not dieting) is the key to weight loss. I don’t care how much effort you put into the gym, the real effort which pays off is all done in the kitchen. Change is all about making choices, setting lots of small and attainable goals, and then just committing yourself to getting there. That is your personal journey, and as with all journeys you need to figure out what you need, and how to begin.

Try looking at yourself not as you expect others see you, but as you wish to see yourself, and accept that you are on a journey of trial and error together. It’s a subtle change in perception, but one that I believe works if you give yourself the permission to stop seeing yourself as you think you should so that you may see yourself as you WANT to. The changes you wish to make aren’t really about WHO you are, but rather about what you do, which in this case is how you feed yourself.

So how does this apply to making a Paleo diet work for you, and how do you avoid being hungry all of the time? Well, you need to apply a little personal psychology to help you to understand how and why you are trying to change, and how you can help support yourself to do this. Seriously, start by throwing out any foods that you know will tempt you, and rather than easing yourself into Paleo you aim to do it 100% from day one, otherwise you’ll simply find excuses to “cheat” yourself into unhealthy food options (particularly early on) and risk giving it up when it seems like it’s not working. After you empty your fridge and pantry of the “people poison”, eat a big Paleo meal until you feel like you don’t wish to eat much more (I.e.: Lot’s of protein, and vegetables of roughly equal amounts), and then go and shop for your Paleo basics for the week. Actually, I’d make it a habit to never shop on an empty stomach to avoid spur-of-the-moment temptations when you shop.

Find your “Why”. Why is it so important to you personally to lose weight, and make that “why” powerful enough to be the reason you get out of bed each morning. Set a goal. Don’t say you want to lose weight/BMI and be fit. Set yourself a target weight and a fitness goal, e.g.: “I will reach a BMI of 22, and be able to run continuously for 5km, by this date 24 months from now”.

Balance everything you eat. In the simplest terms, If you eat fruits, balance them with protein to help your metabolism fool your body into avoiding the insulin-spike you’ll get from the fruit. The same with fats and vegetables. For example, you might decide to have two large banana’s for breakfast, so you could add to that an equivalent amount of mushrooms.  Better yet, reduce the amount of banana and mushroom, and add some baby spinach to your plate. Keep the meals really simple at first, until you get into the swing of things, and branch out into some seriously creative meal preparation later. When you consume enough protein, your body will let you know that you’ve had enough to eat by reducing the hunger symptoms, and giving you a feeling of satiation for a period of time. If after a while get the urge to snack, you can choose to prepare a meal, or you can have something light if you need to buy your stomach a little more time. Some raw fruit or vegetables with a very small handful of nuts can help to tide you over until your next mealtime.

Most importantly, WATER. You lose weight by burning energy and excreting the cellular waste through your urine. They say you should drink at least 1 litre per 22 kg of body weight for healthy metabolic function, but this could be dangerous for someone who is in the obese categories II & III. So if you are obese, perhaps start by drinking 1 litre of water over a 2-3 hour period every 2 to 3 hours, and scale it up or down as seems safe and appropriate. Seriously though, get some advice from your doctor before you change anything radically in terms of water consumption, diet and exercise, just to be sure that the things you intend to do will be safe for your circumstances.

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One Response to “Are you hungry, or are you merely craving?”

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  1. Reflections of a Paleo Diet « Diary of a Personal Trainer - 26 January 2013

    […] Are you hungry, or are you merely craving? (diaryofapersonaltrainer.wordpress.com) […]

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