How to Ignore Hunger

Three Methods:Learning More About HungerTricking Your BodyReducing Hunger with Diet

Hunger is the body's signal that you should eat. But sometimes, the signal misfires. People often believe they're hungry, when what they're feeling is stress, anxiety or emotional neediness. If you are trying to lose lose weight, you might not want to eat just because your body feels hungry. If you are trying to keep a fast for religious or health purposes, you might find ways to ignore feelings of hunger to be more comfortable.

Method 1
Learning More About Hunger

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    Understand the origin of a growling stomach. These sounds are usually caused by juices and gasses moving around the stomach and intestine. It's not your stomach telling you it’s time to eat. The reason the sound is associated with hunger is because it's louder when the stomach and intestines are empty. If you have food in your stomach, it muffles the noise of this activity.[1]
    • A growling stomach is not the same as hunger pangs, which start 12-24 hours after your last meal.
    • Some people have more gas than others. Reasons that people have gas include: poor nutrition, food intolerance, pregnancy, and genetics.
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    Attribute hunger to your brain. Feelings of hunger might not be caused by an empty stomach. Hunger can occur for reasons of both physiological and psychological desire for satisfaction.Hunger pangs have been shown to continue even after a stomach has been removed. The hypothalamus, or brainstem, regulates feelings of hunger, not the stomach.[2]
    • Knowing more about the causes of hunger might help you ignore it when it arises.
    • If you feel hungry, consider what emotional needs you might address instead of eating something to feel better.
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    Recognize emotional cravings. Many people associate food with safety and comfort. They're more likely to feel hungry when they're feeling anxious, worried or fearful. People who eat for emotional reasons might find themselves in a cycle of overeating followed by severe dieting, and have a hard time with weight control.[3]
    • Many emotional eaters suffer from low self-esteem. They may benefit from counseling, cognitive behavior therapy or other therapeutic supports.
    • It might not be easy to recognize the difference between emotional sources of hunger and physiological sources of hunger. If you're someone who has a hard time discerning this difference, consider following a scheduled eating program. That way, you can know that you're getting your food needs met and may be better able to address your emotional needs.
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    Get more sleep. Sleep helps you keep a balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). Without enough sleep, you'll produce more ghrelin. Your level of leptin will decrease, and this will make you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.[4]
    • Most people need between 6-10 hours of sleep per night.
    • Research shows a direct connection between lack of sleep and obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that for every hour of sleep lost, the chances of obesity increased.[5]
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    Control your stress levels. Stress releases cortisol, and cortisol increases your appetite. This is an adaptive measure by the body, because it also increases your motivation in general, but it become maladaptive when you respond by overeating. Elevated cortisol levels sustained over time increase your chances of obesity.[6]
    • Other hazards of stress include poor sleep, lack of exercise, and drinking more alcohol.
    • Ways to lower your stress levels include meditation, taking a yoga class, or enjoying a warm bath. If you feel like eating and suspect that stress is the reason, try one of these stress relievers instead.
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    Get tested for diabetes. If you frequently feel hungry without cause, or if you notice other signs of diabetes (being very thirsty, having feelings of tiredness or fatigue, or urinating more often than usual) you might want to get tested for diabetes. Feelings of hunger can be a sign of both low blood sugar and high blood sugar, and both are significant factors of diabetes. If you haven’t had blood tests for a while, get a physical and rule out this dangerous condition.[7]
    • Diabetes can be diagnosed at any age. Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents or young adults. Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age. About 1/3 of people living with Type 2 diabetes don't know they have it.
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    Practice mindful eating. Mindfulness practices address the problem of feeling hungry due to stress, and eating for emotional reasons. Research shows that people who were taught mindfulness techniques lowered their levels of stress and chronic anxiety, and their levels of stress eating decreased.[8]
    • Mindfulness practices include learning to be aware of your breath, being aware of your body, and staying in the present rather than projecting into the future or the past.
    • Mindful eating practices are based in using these same strategies and applying them to food, so that you become deeply aware of each experience with your food.

Method 2
Tricking Your Body

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    Drink a full glass of water when you feel hungry. Some people believe that they're hungry when in fact they're just dehydrated. Not having enough hydration can result in feelings of tiredness and hunger. Some doctors even suggest drinking a glass before a meal to make you feel fuller faster.[9]
    • Drinking sugary sodas or juices are not recommended, as they are often laden with calories and their high sugar content will result in a sugar spike, and consequent crash, in your blood sugar level.
    • By drinking a glass of water, you're allowing yourself time to notice if you're genuinely hungry or if you're feeling emotionally charged. If it's the latter, eating won't solve your problem.
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    Sprinkle cayenne pepper on your food. Capsaicin, the component that gives hot red peppers their heat, has been shown to be an appetite suppressant. A sprinkle, up to a teaspoon, of cayenne on your typical daily diet reduces your appetite overall. This is particularly effective if you are unused to eating hot, spicy foods.[10]
    • The research was only done using cayenne pepper. It isn't clear whether it would also work with capsaicin in a capsule form.
    • People who ate cayenne pepper on their food also had a higher metabolic rate, meaning they burned calories at a higher rate.
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    Drink green tea. High quality green tea can be an effective appetite suppressant. When you start to become aware of feeling hungry, make a hot cup of green tea. You'll notice your hunger lessens and your energy level becomes higher.[11]
    • Green teas include any teas that have not gone through the oxidation process. They are higher in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.
    • Avoid adding sweeteners (such as sugar, honey or artificial sweeteners) to green tea to maximize the effect of appetite suppressant.
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    Chew slowly. It takes the body about 20 minutes to stop feeling hungry and start feeling full. This is because the brain must have time to receive the signals from the stomach that it's no longer hungry. When you feel hungry following eating, what your body may actually be experiencing is fullness.[12]
    • Stretch receptors in the stomach are alerted as the stomach fills with food and liquid. These signal the brain through the vagus nerve, which connects the brainstem and the intestine, alerting the brain that the stomach is full.
    • Not everyone processes feeling full in the same way, and the feelings of appetite are complex.
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    Use more blue in your kitchen. Studies suggest that the color blue serves as a natural appetite suppressant. Since there are only a few naturally-occurring blue foods, humans don't have a strong connection between the color blue and food.[13]
    • When human food responses were developing, millions of years ago, foods that were blue, black or purple were "color warning" of possible toxin.
    • People who are trying to lose weight are commonly encouraged to eat from blue plates.
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    Hide your food in your cupboards. Hunger may be a response to visual cues. Don’t leave food out where you're likely to see it and eat it. Keep food put away, so that it's hard to find in office and home environments.[14]
    • Get up and walk around during commercials. They may also be giving you visual cues that you are hungry.
    • Keep your favorite foods in the freezer, so that you can't easily nibble at them.
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    Go for a walk. A fast walk, jog or exercise session can result in a delay of hunger pangs. Engaging in aerobic exercise also addresses the possibility that your hunger is emotional rather than physical. If you're really physically hungry, your hunger pangs will come back after you exercise. If you're stressed out, going for a quick run might remove your hungry feelings.[15]
    • Exercise also releases endorphins that will help combat stress.
    • If you're likely to eat when watching television, try going on a walk instead.

Method 3
Reducing Hunger with Diet

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    Eat breakfast every morning. Eating breakfast will prevent hunger throughout the morning, and give you a fuller feeling throughout the day. In addition, eating breakfasts regularly may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.[16]
    • Try oatmeal with fruit, milk and nuts in the morning. This breakfast is an excellent mix of protein, whole grains and fiber. It will keep you feeling full past noon.
    • Another option is an omelette with spinach, cheese and avocado. The mix of protein, healthy fats and fiber will also increase the time you can last until your next meal.
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    Eat plenty of lean protein. Try turkey, chicken, pork, egg whites, beans, tofu and non-fat Greek yogurt to feel more satisfied all day long. Don't limit your protein consumption to meals, but include protein during light snacks throughout the day.[17]
    • Peanut butter may also help you feel less hungry. According to a study conducted by Purdue University, peanut butter seems to lessen appetite for up to two hours longer than a low-fiber, high-carb snack such as potato chips.
    • Make sure your protein isn't laden with high fructose corn syrup or other sucrose-based additives.
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    Eat healthy fats. Cooking fats like olive oil, avocado, nut oils, coconut oil and even butter can make you feel more satisfied with your meal. You might start to feel hungry if fat levels drop too severely. Including some olive oil or other heart-healthy fats may help you feel less hungry.[18]
    • A recent study showed that volunteers who included an avocado with their lunches were 40% less likely to report feeling hungry later in the day than people who didn't.
    • Part of olive oil's appetite suppressing abilities appears to come from its aroma, so including aromatic olive oil as a regular part of your diet may serve to decrease appetite.


  • Try keeping a food journal. You may feel more in touch with your hunger and more accountable to yourself. Write down how satisfied you feel after a meal to reinforce the feeling of being satiated.

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Categories: Maintaining Diets