Published March 7, 2018

How Not to be Hungry on a Diet

by Helen M. Ryan

When You Feel Like You're Starving

Oh, that four-letter-word… DIET.

I never say I’m on a “diet,” and in my books I often harp on not dieting to lose weight (harp, harp).

A question I’ve been frequently been is, “How can I not feel hungry when on a diet?” 

Depending on which “diet” or eating plan you’re on determines the answer, but usually I give some simple recommendations that even I could follow.

If you're hungry while cutting calories to lose weight, here are some things you can do to nip it in the bud.

Fill up on lower calorie, high volume foods. Eat as many vegetables as you can, and add some fruit. These are healthy snacks that will tide you over so you won't hit the cookie jar.

  • 1 cup of spinach is under 10 calories.
  • 1 cup of lettuce is 15 calories.
  • 10 medium baby carrots are 35 calories.
  • An entire cup of sliced strawberries is around 50 calories. Yes, an entire cup of delicious, ripe, and tasty strawberries.

A medium apple gives you just 95 calories and 0 grams of fat, but a single serving size of generic potato chips has 150 calories and 11 grams of fat! Who can stop at just a single serving size? Not me. And which will make you feel fuller? The apple or the chips? Hmmm.

Eat those vegetables or simple low calories soups before your meals, in between your meals, and before going out. In the winter, I make a big pot of soup (broth, lots of veggies, sometimes beans. If you want to add meat—chicken breast or low-fat ground turkey are good choices). The more vegetables the better, and no creamy sauce. Spring and summer are perfect for huge salads (dressing on the side or light dressing).

Eat more protein and good fats. They take longer to digest so you feel fuller longer. They even make dried chickpea snacks that are loaded with protein (and fiber) and have a good crunch.

Drink lots of water. Duh. We hear that all the time. Drinking water (and other liquids) has another benefit: It helps fill your stomach so you're not starving.

Pyramid down. To borrow a phrase from weight training, “pyramid down” and eat less at meals over a period of a week or two. Slowly get your stomach used to having less in it. After a while you will eat half of what you would normally eat and not feel hungry. If you have a full-on binge where you feel like your stomach is bursting…you’ll need to start over with pyramiding down.

Have a protein healthy snack before bedtime. String cheese, plain yogurt or hard boiled egg will help you not wake up at 3 a.m., rummaging through the pantry. (No, I’ve never done that. Of course not. Would I eat chips and crackers and 3 a.m.?? Heck yeah I would).