Weighing In: Should I eat when my stomach growls?
Question: I’ve been dieting but my stomach keeps growling so I have to eat. How do I lose weight if my body is constantly telling me to eat more?
Heather: It’s not uncommon to experience signs of hunger after you’ve cut down on your calories, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to eat or that your body needs the calories. Sometimes you have to get your body used to getting less food.
Hunger is not an emergency. You do not have to respond with food as soon as your stomach growls. Take a few seconds to assess your hunger. Consider when you last ate, how much you’ve eaten over the course of the day abd then decide whether your stomach is growling from hunger or something else.
If you’ve just eaten and are feeling symptoms of hunger, consider drinking a glass of water or doing something else to get your mind off the desire to eat. If you still feel hungry in 20 minutes, you might want to have a small snack. While hunger isn’t an emergency, you also don’t want to let yourself get so hungry that you overeat.
If you do find that you are frequently feeling hungry between meals, consider eating smaller, more frequent meals or three meals and three snacks. This can help keep you metabolism on an even keel and keep real hunger at bay.
Exercise is also an important part of weight loss and weight maintenance. The more you exercise, the more calories you can eat. Consider adding exercise to your daily routine, this will help counter any extra calories you are eating. It will also let you eat more so you aren’t feeling hungry as often. But remember, the goal is for calories in to be less than calories out. Good luck with your weight loss journey
Heather wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.