Dealing with hunger when fasting

Feeling hungry=Body in repair mode

When you feel hungry, wait 30 minutes

Of course you will feel hungry during your fasts, but it will not build and build until it becomes unbearable. Far from it: if you simply wait for half an hour after you feel the hunger building, you will find that it fades away again. It would make no sense if our ancient ancestors had to cope with feeling constantly hungry when they were hunting for their next meal! Your body will remind you from time to time that you have not eaten, but hunger, while it can be quite intense, does not last very long.

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Go for a walk/ take some exercise

Exercise is a sure way of turning off hunger pangs. While you might not feel like running or working out at the gym on your first fasts (but you will later), a walk outside in the fresh air can be a welcome distraction and a good way of avoiding food when others around you are eating their lunch.

Learn more about fasting and exercise

Keep busy

Keeping busy will stop you from thinking about all the food you could be eating, and will make the day pass much more quickly.

“I can have it tomorrow”

Whatever food you might be craving on your fast day, keep repeating the mantra “I can have it tomorrow” (or if you are following an ‘eating window’ fasting approach “I can have it in just a few hours’ time”. You may be surprised to find that when you can have it, you don’t want it after all.

Don’t eat mini-meals

Oddly, if you eat a small amount of food when you feel hunger pangs, it will only make you feel better for a very short time. You will find that the hunger comes back stronger. It is best, therefore, not to have many mini-meals, but to eat just one or at most two meals on a fast day. Again, thinking back to our ancestors, we can imagine that, food being hard to come by, when they did find food, it would be important to eat as much as possible then and there. Our bodies like the ‘all or nothing’ approach. Most people in the FastDay community prefer to eat just an evening meal. Of course there are exceptions and some experimentation may be needed to see what suits you best.

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Plan your fast day meal(s)

If you plan ahead for your fast day food, and get as much prepared in advance as possible (weigh, measure, calculate the calories, chop or even cook it), you will be able to stay out of the kitchen until just before it’s time to eat.  You won’t need to be thinking about food and worrying about what you’re going to eat because you will already have decided. And  you will already know that the meal is within your calorie allowance. Planning ahead reduces stress, and makes you less likely to be short-tempered!

A ready-made meal might be a good option: your calories are already worked out and there is no preparation needed.  Many people choose intermittent fasting because it is so much more convenient that constantly counting calories every day – so we think (good quality!) convenience foods are very much in the spirit of intermittent fasting. Some convenience foods are much more satisfying and healthier than others; our community has lots of tips about which ones are best.

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Fill up with vegetables and protein

When the time comes for food on your fast day, you will find that a reasonable sized portion of protein, such as 120g of chicken breast, combined with as many different vegetables as you can manage will fill you up really well without ‘costing’ too many calories. It is best to keep any carbohydrate (this includes starchy foods, like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, and sugary foods like pastries and fruits) to a minimum. If you prefer to eat ready-made meals on your fast day, try to choose options that are not too high in carbohydrate. Carbohydrate-containing foods seem to stimulate hunger and are also high in calories – save them for your non-fast days!

Learn more about when and what to eat

Don’t worry if you go over your calorie allowance or break your fast early

It takes time for your body to adjust to fasting so it’s absolutely OK to start gently with a shorter fast or bigger calorie allowance and work your way into things. If you are really struggling, take the scenic route rather than the quick way.

Visit the FastDay Forum for encouragement and inspiration

If you are feeling low, worried about something or just want to chat, you’ll find plenty of support and encouragement at the FastDay Forum. There is always a ‘Fasting today’ thread where you can chat with other people who are currently fasting, plus there are dedicated threads for different types of intermittent fasting.

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