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Five Secrets to Losing Weight Without Feeling Hungry, Deprived, Grumpy and Cranky

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 08/02/2010
Last Updated: 09/08/2012

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Dieting can make a lot of people downright cranky. So does being hungry. (I know someone who, when he gets hungry, gets moody and impossible to deal with. It's a little disconcerting, actually, to see a nice person turn into a raving lunatic. When he gets what he wants – and by that time, just about anything will do – he changes back into the nice person he was always meant to be.)

Just because you're dieting or trying to lose some weight doesn't mean you have to endure a growling, angry stomach that is silently screaming out to be filled.

Here are some really simple strategies for losing weight without losing your mind.

Up the Protein.  Did you ever notice that when you eat protein feel full for a longer time? It's almost like an appetite suppressant. Eating protein can help you feel fuller – just make sure it's lean protein. Try combining two proteins, like an egg scrambled with a little shredded cheese, or a low-fat yogurt sprinkled with slivered almonds or chopped walnuts.

Allow snacks
. A lot of people think they should eat three square meals a day, with absolutely no snacking in between. But this doesn't work for everyone (personally, I need to nibble between meals, or else I approach the upcoming meal with an appetite that is way too big. And that just gets me into trouble).  If you prepare some healthful snacks ahead of time you'll be less likely to just grab at anything. When I know I'll be out for more than a few hours, I never leave home without some food like unsalted almonds and cashews in a little zip-top bag (a very smart friend of mine stashes hers in an empty Altoids mints tin), or if I'm really ambitious, some cutup carrots and celery.  If you're home, make sure you have things that make healthy snacks like low-fat cottage cheese, hummus, whole grain crackers or fruits like apples and bananas. Planning ahead of time will cut down on the just-grab-anything mode.

Drink water. Sometimes you think you're hungry but what you really are is thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water the next time your stomach makes some noise.

Up your fruits and vegetable intake
. Things like watermelon, oranges, and cucumbers can be high in water content and thus create a feeling of more fullness. And, they're low in calories, so you can eat more of them. Ever since my visit to Pritikin and seeing their emphasis on snacking on unlimited fruits and veggies, I've been a very happy – and satisfied – snacker.

Find the fiber. Seek out foods higher in fiber, since soluble and insoluble fibers hold water and expand in your stomach, helping you to feel full longer. (If you missed my prior post about a fabulous super-high fiber bread from the Instinct Diet cookbook, click here).  Foods like fruits and veggies, beans, brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat bread are all packed with fiber.

This Matters> Feeling full isn't always when you feel like your stomach will burst and it's impossible to zip your jeans. Try doing the HARA HACHI BU. It's Japanese for "eat until you're 80 percent full." If you do this and wait 20 minutes, chances are that you will be satisfied, since it takes your stomach time to send the "I'm full" signal to your brain.

You might also want to read:
Five little changes that can help you lose weight
Foods for healthy aging

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It's such a psychological game, dieting, don't you think? I'm wrestling with it now myself. One other key, courtesy of Weight Watchers, is writing down every bite you eat so you know what you're consuming. It's an eye-opener.

Yes, more psychological than physical, me thinks. Writing everything down is an excellent way to stay accountable and see what you are REALLY eating. Thanks for that reminder, Nancy.

These are great tips. It always seems like it's about tricking your body into wanting less food. I wish it didn't have to be so hard. You would think our appetites would have evolved to match our less active lifestyles. The tip about fiber is particularly good and works well for me

You're absolutely right, MandMe. The fiber, I have found, works really well at creating a feeling of satiety.

I've ALWAYS equated dieting with deprivation. And this is why I've shot up 30 pounds since getting married. Thanks for these tips, Sheryl! No more food swings for me!

That's a great phrase...food swings. I totally get it :) Hopefully you won't have to feel deprived any longer.

I think these are all great points, and not just for weight loss, but for how to eat and live in general. As Americans, we're taught to eat until we're stuffed, when in other cultures, you eat until you're not hungry anymore, or until your plate is empty. I'd never really thought of "fullness" as a cultural thing, but it's funny how it can be more nurture than nature!

I think, especially in our culture and how many of us grew up, we have to remind ourselves that we CAN be full before the plate is empty!

Thanks for these tips. I have a leg injury so have not been able to get in much exercise of late and feel bloated. Will remember the water trick, especially. Sometimes you can fool your stomach!

An injury is never any fun...hope you're better in no time!

An injury is never any fun...hope you're better in no time!

Oh, man, I'm like Jekyl & Hyde if I don't eat. Thanks for the tips, Sheryl! Since I'm vegetarian, I have to be careful about getting enough protein.

I agree. I have the same problem, since I naturally gravitate toward the carbs rather than the protein. How about adding some beans? Great protein source there.

Thanks for this. I DO get cranky when I try to diet. Eating some protein--especially organic red meat--really helps!

Glad I could help you and all the other fellow cranksters :)

I need to be drinking more water but for some reason it seems so boring lately--are those Crystal Light flavor packets terrible for you?

Although that may be helping you drink more water, not sure if it's the best way to go about it...there are two artificial sweeteners in Crystal Light. Take a look at what the Washington Post had to say about itf in their blog, "The Checkup":http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2009/07/is_that_right_crystal_l...

Yeah, some of weight loss is about being friends with a slightly hungry feeling. But these are great tips. Fruits and veggies are great snacks. And if they round out every meal, they are a great way to fill up on fewer cals.

I have to be really honest with myself and listen to my body. Its needs vary from day to day. Mostly, I have to remember to eat enough--of the right things.

I agree, Meredith. Some days my body craves things that the next day it shuns. Listening is so key.

Upping the protein really works for me, as does drinking lots of water. I'll be trying the rest of your tips, too. Battling weight is a life-long struggle.

I know, it is a life-long struggle, Donna. I think you're not alone in that! So many of us fight it, especially as we age.

I'm curious to know about the "unlimited" snacking on things like watermelon, oranges and cucumbers. Are you encouraged to eat these for snacks without worrying about calorie count? I love keeping fruit, like grapes and cherries, for snacking, especially later in the day when I'm craving something sugary. Thank you for these suggestions.

Yes, Jesaka,no calorie counting. I was skeptical at first since I know fruits contain calories and (natural) sugars, but it's had no adverse effect on my weight. That might be, though, because I cut out other things, like bread, and carefully watch my oil intake.

All sound advice, Sheryl. I'd add: Instead of thinking of eating in terms of "dieting" or "losing weight" think "healthy," "nourishing" and "good for my body."

Feels more positive and less punitive. Subtle but effective.

I drink water when i feel hungry because i know alot of the time I forget to drink enough. Protein definately fills me up at night after dinner. A nice hunk of cheese, maybe just an ounce or two does the trick.


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