The Difference Between Hunger And Cravings

Many people think they can't lose weight because they feel hungry all the time. I had the same problem and found a solution. It is possible to stop what is often mistaken for hunger. Let's figure it out.

When something inside you says "I want to eat"

The first thing you know is that you must get something to eat. It's either your stomach that makes noise, or your mind gives you messages all the time, maybe it's even your nose that's picking up some delicious scent.

Whatever it is, something is going on and it's threatening your desired weight loss. But now, let's put these situations into two categories. Hunger and cravings.

What is craving?

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Craving is a psychological process clearly disconnected from your body. When a craving occurs, it means that your mind wants you to eat something, but there is no underlying need for that food. In other words, you are not starving in that moment, but it still hurts to go without the food. Craving equals appetite.

What are common cravings?

-The general craving for sweet food (sugar)
-The smell of tasty food
-The sight of tasty food
-Craving for meat
-Craving for specific foods (very individual)

What is true hunger?

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Hunger is a physical phenomenon. To be truely hungry means that your stomach is empty. Hunger gets worse depending on how long it's been since you have eaten. Most people in modern countries don't know how difficult hunger can get. Think of the people in Africa. Trust me, they could teach you about hunger.

If you want to experience what hunger is, check out my post Fasting To Lose Weight. It is also a good way to start a diet and to make your body get used to a more moderate sense of hunger and cravings.

How do you get rid of cravings?

Cravings are more common in a diet than hunger. The reason can be explained with the saying "old habits die hard". If you are used to eating chocolate every day, your mind will continue to ask for that chocolate.

To get rid of cravings, you need to dry out these cravings. There are two ways of doing so. One is a very hardcore way, where you just stop from one day to the next. The other is a gentle way. Let's look at it in more detail.

Let's say you have a craving for sweet foods. Now you want to never have that craving again. You start off by giving your body a little bit of sweet food to satisfy the craving. But you don't give chocolate, you give something else. For example pineapple, or sweet apple, or mango.

Next time the craving occurs, give a little less, and a little less. After a while, it will only be a small piece of fruit that's enough.  And when your diet focusses on drying out cravings completely (like my no carb diet), then you will even be able to stand in front of chocolate in a grocery store and not feel a thing.

What if there is real hunger?

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Even in a balanced diet, and especially in a low carb or no carb diet, your stomach will feel empty at times, and that's normal because you are supposed to burn body fat and not just what's in your stomach.

When your low carb/no carb diet is at its best, you should be able to not feel hungry for 2 out of 4 hours that you are required to not eat anything. Maybe even 3 out of 4 hours. But what do you do in the remaining time?

My personal solution is to actually fill my stomach with something! It sounds so easy, and that's because it is. You see, as mentioned before, hunger is a feeling of emptiness in your stomach, and nothing else.

So the best way to fill your stomach is to drink a glass of water, or maybe two. You can repeat this step when your stomach feels empty again. From then on, just distract yourself with something else like watching tv or playing a game. It won't be long until your next meal.

How else can you fill your stomach? Next time you eat, add more volume to the meal. Getting hungry can be a sign of having had too little substance. Your stomach wants to be busy.

So here is the big question: How do you fill your stomach without eating too much? Well, just eat something that has little energy. Salad!

In that salad, don't put too much fancy stuff. Fancy stuff is cheese, sauce, and the like. If it's part of your diet, some is okay. But without regrets, you can add large amounts of cabbage, celery, sliced carrots, mushrooms and the like. Drink some tea afterwards, or water. This will widen the time frame needed for your stomach to process all the food. That's all!
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