Congratulations to you if you are starting a weight loss program for the new year, resuming one from last year, or continuing to soldier on with an ongoing program! Losing weight is challenging, but planning ahead makes it much smoother going.
One thing that I hear people complain about (and a thing that was hard for me when I started on Weight Watchers more than three years ago) was dealing with hunger. When you start to lose weight, you’ll be eating less than you’ve been used to. But there are different things you can do to successfully fight hunger. Here are things that I do every day:
Don’t skip breakfast. Medical professionals tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it helps to spread your calories out in a more balanced manner throughout the day, it is kinder to your body after having not eaten overnight, and because it can help to boost your metabolism. I eat breakfast, and I make sure that it’s well balanced. (Examples: 2 eggs “fried” in cooking spray on a light hamburger bun, turkey deli meat on a toasted slice of whole wheat bread spread with reduced fat cream cheese, a fat-free tortilla spread with 1/2 cup of fat-free refried beans and 1 oz. of reduced-fat cheddar cheese. I typically eat these things with a piece of fruit and coffee.)
Eat a snack or two (with protein). I know some people swear by eating five or six small meals during the day, but I typically eat three meals and a snack or two, depending on how hungry I am (or how light my meals are). I’d eat one snack before lunch, and another before dinner. I generally eat a protein with a fruit or serving of vegetables. (For example, a piece of reduced-fat string cheese with an apple, a serving of turkey pepperoni with carrots, a half cup of fat-free plain Greek yogurt with fruit, or a Kashi granola bar, with or without a piece of fruit.)
Eat a small dessert. Not only does eating something extra contribute to fullness, but it helps me to not feel deprived during the day and week. I typically eat something sweet after lunch and maybe after dinner, too. I’ve gone into more detail and given light dessert recommendations here.
Choose carbs wisely. Rather than white potatoes, rice and pasta being a staple in my diet, I eat starch vegetables most days to keep myself full and maximize nutrients. Here is a list of different options. If I eat a salad, however, I might be more likely to eat a refined carb (like a serving of mini pretzels or baked chips or tortillas), because I can load up on vegetables instead to add the filling component to the meal.
Eat something when you’re hungry. This sounds obvious, but how many times have you tried to ignore the rumbling in your stomach when it came an hour or so before mealtime? As you’re getting a routine down, it’s better to eat something when you’re hungry (really physically hungry, as opposed to wanting to eat for emotional reasons) than to let your stomach suffer in silence. Have a snack with protein if you haven’t already, or a handful of raw veggies (or a piece of fruit) with some tea if you have. You can always refine your eating patterns later, but don’t leave your body in the lurch in the now.
These strategies have served me well over the past several years, and I know I’ll be leaning on them heavily as I incorporate more salads into my meal plans this month. I also hope to start exercising regularly, and that also will require that I use strategies to keep hunger at bay to their fullest. These are my suggestions, but definitely experiment to see what works for you! And please let me know if you have other ideas that have served you well.