Aug 212013


A reader named Jamie sent me a lovely email recently proposing a blog topic. I was grateful for the email because I love getting feedback from readers who say my posts help them lose weight. And this particular question is probably something that everyone struggles with when first trying to lose weight.

“I wonder if you could address how you dealt with hunger (or still do) when you were heavier. I notice in your blog that you eat half a sandwich, pack home half or dinner out etc frequently. I try that, but I’m still physically too hungry to NOT finish my meal. I’m wondering if you could kindly respond or write a post on this issue.”

I’ve talked about this topic in a few different round about ways. Check out the old posts here: Redefine Your Relationship with FoodHunger Cues and Savor: Book Review. The post that I wrote a few years ago that most closely deals with this topic is “E is for Emergency“. Basically, I had to learn that hunger was NOT an emergency and that I needed to listen to my body and decipher the hunger cues before just stuffing my face with food. It was like I would get tunnel vision and the only thing I wanted was FOOD. I still have that feeling after a really hard workout or bike ride.

So how did I deal with HUNGER while I was losing weight? And how do I deal with it now?


When I was trying to lose 100 pounds, I tried really hard to stay within my calorie range for the day. It was hard and there were days where I struggled and failed and some days where I failed so miserably it became a binge. Thankfully that wasn’t too often.

The first few weeks (maybe a month) of reducing my calories was a nightmare. I was always hungry. I was going from 4000+ calories a day to 1600 calories a day and my body was not happy about that. I had figured out how many calories I was allowed to eat for each meal and I was trying not to go over that. That hollow, grumbling feeling in my stomach was distracting to say the least. What helped was drinking water. Filling up with water when I was hungry took the edge off.

I learned a few things from this hunger. First, it goes away. Your body adjusts to the lower calories after awhile and it gets easier. Second, it’s crucial to find “safe” snacks to eat in between meals. Carrots and hummus, Greek yogurt and fruit, an apple, cottage cheese. Find things that take the edge off but don’t totally derail your efforts (i.e. going to the vending machine at work!).

After some time, the 1600-2000 calorie day was the norm and my body was used to it and expected it. If I overate, my body wasn’t happy. I’d get stomach cramps and feel nauseated sometimes. Finding that “happy spot” with food takes some time but once you realize what works, it gets really easy. I know I make it sound like it’s no effort at all, it DOES take time and work, but it DOES get easier!


How is that different now? Well I eat more calories now than I did during my weight loss. If I workout and burn 500 calories in the gym, I eat most of those calories back. So on a fitness day I could be eating 2200 calories. This helps with the hunger but the downside is that I do not lose weight now (because I do not create a calorie deficit).

I’m smarter about my food now. I try (sometimes I fail) to eat foods that are WORTH the calories. What does that mean? It means I choose foods that are high in protein, fiber and fat so that I get filled up with less food. For example:

avocado with crackers (a few bites of this and I’m full) – about 150 calories

cottage cheese (great protein source) – about 100 calories

protein shake with almond milk (currently loving the Costco whey protein) -about 160 calories

graham cracker with peanut butter on top -about 150 calories

string cheese with pistachios or almonds -about 180 calories depending on nuts

hardboiled egg with a piece of beef jerky -about 100 calories

It doesn’t sound like a lot of food but if you are SMART you will be satisfied. Seriously, there was a time when one graham cracker with peanut butter on top would not be considered a snack or something satisfying but now it is. I gave it time for my body to adjust and now it’s ok.

I am definitely not perfect all the time. I don’t know what is going on with me lately but I’ve been having an issue with hunger! I’ve been pretty decent with my calories every day and I haven’t really changed my fitness level (although I am doing a little more cardio now that my knees are better). Yet I’ve had that grumbling, empty stomach, insatiable hunger for about a week or two now! It’s been making me crazy. There have been a few mornings I woke up to growling hunger! That’s abnormal for me. Maybe my body is just re-adjusting to another change, who knows.

I’ve been taking my advice and trying to eat snacks that are healthier. Today I had some watermelon and blackberries from the garden. The other day I had some smoked almonds. They took the edge off, but didn’t cure it. Basically it got me through to the next meal.

Which brings me to my conclusion…


My tip (and yes I do this): when that insatiable hunger is taking over and you have a snack but it’s not doing the trick, tell yourself to CHILL OUT.

For example, as I write this post it’s about 3:50pm and my stomach is growling like I haven’t eaten in 2 days. (What the hell?!) I have plans to meet my friend Robyn for happy hour at 5:00pm. That is about an hour away. I’m telling myself I can make it, calm down, it’s only an hour. And I just guzzled more water.

Reread E is for Emergency and ask yourself why you think you are hungry? Is it real hunger? Did you not eat enough food at your last meal? Do you need to consider breaking up your meals into more frequent, smaller snacks? Are you drinking enough water? Are you stressed or emotional? Are there OTHER REASONS you might want to eat? (For me, there usually are!) I hope this helps!

QUESTION: What are your tips for dealing with insatiable hunger?

May 232012

One night after work I headed to the gym to do a sort-of quick run on the treadmill (I am so ready for nicer weather so I can run outside again) and a really good strength training session. It was a nice day, cooler than the summer-streak we’d been having, but sunny and clear. I was almost tempted to go home and just run outside and skip the gym. Biking to work a few times already this month has reminded me just how much I prefer outdoor activities. That being said, I am still focused on the strength training and not ready to sideline that for the summer yet.

My run was pretty good. My body felt nice, I stayed at a steady pace the entire time and did 3 miles. I’ve decided that I won’t be doing any MORE miles on the treadmill. Anything above the 3 will have to be outside. I mean really, who wants to do 4 or 5 miles on a treadmill? Unless it’s the dead of winter, not me!

I spent a decent amount of time doing the body weight exercises I like to do (side lunges, walking lunges, squats, step ups, pushups, Russian twists, to just name a few) and then went over to the machines to do that for the rest of the session. I felt strong and stable and had to increase the weight on one machine. Oh, and doing bicep curls I’m now up to 45 pounds!

Gym Stats:
Time: 1:22
Calories Burned: 655
Distance: 3 miles 

I hurried home because I was starving and Michael was making something really tasty for dinner. The day before I had picked up a few good-looking peppers with the idea of grilling them. I then got the idea in my head that I really wanted stuffed peppers. I sent Michael a few recipes I thought sounded good and he picked one to try. I was really grateful that he put in so much time and work to make something I was craving. Here is that recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 2

Serving Size: 1 pepper each

Calories per serving: 406


  • 2 medium green bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup uncooked instant rice
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Cut tops off peppers and discard; remove seeds.
  2. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine beef, 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, rice, 2 tablespoons of cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and egg; mix well.
  4. Stuff the peppers; place in an ungreased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish.
  5. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over peppers.
  6. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and peppers are tender.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.



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Unfortunately, I wasn’t at home for most the dinner creation so I’m not sure how closely he followed the recipe. He said he kind of “winged it” off the above recipe. He did leave out the egg and used leftover pizza sauce from a can instead of the tomato sauce (which is basically the same thing just with Italian seasoning I think). He also used lean ground turkey meat instead of beef and added chopped green onions. I think he also said he used regular white rice, not instant, and cooked it ahead of time.

Dinner was fantastic! I devoured mine because it tasted so damn good. I wasn’t sure if one stuffed pepper would be enough after a hard gym session so I added some raw broccoli to my plate. I used some Roka Blue cheese dressing as a dip. The combination turned out to be the perfect amount of food for me.

The stuffed peppers were a bit messy to eat, but worth the mess. I ate mine by cutting sections of the pepper off and eating bites of pepper with the stuffing mixture. Michael used his pepper as a bowl and just ate the stuffing mixture. ;) To each it’s own. I ended up nibbling on some of his leftover pepper.

It was filling and it felt really healthy. I calculated the calories according to the recipe, minus the egg, and it actually wasn’t that bad. Of course factor in more calories for extra cheese topping!

I would most definitely have this recipe again. I’d probably try it with the egg included next time. I think perhaps the egg was kind of the “glue” to hold everything together inside the pepper. My friend Star introduced me to stuffed peppers about 4 years ago and I fell in love with the concept then. Hers were stuffed with brown rice or quinoa, lots of veggies and sauce. They were so damn good, I need to ask her what she did to them. I’m already getting more ideas on what I can stuff peppers with for next time!

QUESTION: What do you stuff your peppers with? And how do you eat stuffed peppers?