Losing weight often means taking in fewer calories than has been your habit. You want to stick to the plan, but there is one problem. You’re just plain hungry. How should you handle hunger when trying to lose weight? Try these tips.

Be sure it’s hunger
According to a Today.com article “Can you tell the difference between tired and hungry?”, thirst can also fake you out because the symptoms of dehydration, such as tiredness, dizziness and lightheadedness, can overlap those of hunger. Have a glass of water first. Try to continue whatever you were doing without too much focus on your appetite. If after ten minutes you still feel hungry, go ahead and eat.

Go ahead and eat
As you plan your plate make high-fiber foods the star. High fiber foods help you feel fuller longer, so you eat less. They also have more water content, which also helps tamp down appetite. Good choices include vegetables, beans and whole grains.

photodune-1869134-clock-with-sleep-at-night-xs-1Manage stress
Stress or exhaustion can drive the hunger hormone ghrelin. Your brain gets the “eat” signal, even though you aren’t really hungry. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each evening. Get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, too. Both can help you keep stress at bay. You may also want to try stress management techniques such as mindfulness and meditation. Think you’re too busy? Try this instead – every time you wash your hands or climb a staircase, take three slow, deep breaths. Repeat a compassionate phrase or word to yourself such as, may I be at ease, all is well, calm or peace.

Don’t under eat
Know how many calories are appropriate for you. You’ll want to consider things like your current and goal weight as well as your activity level. Eating significantly fewer calories than you need won’t just cause you to feel hungry, it will undermine your health and weight loss goals.

Snack on fruit
Don’t wait too long between meals and snacks. Weight loss isn’t about deprivation. You are more likely to be successful with moderation. The fiber in fruit makes it easier to practice moderation. According to a web.md article titled Top 10 Ways to Deal with Hunger when Dieting, “research suggests that low-calorie plant foods that are rich in soluble fiber — like oranges and grapefruit — help us feel fuller faster and keep blood sugars steady. This can translate into better appetite control.”

Be patient with yourself
If you follow the tried and true advice, move more and eat less, it stands to reason that you’ll need to give your body time to adjust to reduced calories. Be patient with yourself. Let the hungry feelings be there for ten or 15 minutes before you act on them. When you do eat, do so slowly and mindfully. Serve yourself on a small plate and pay attention to the meal. Savor and fully experience the taste and texture of the food as you eat. Give your brain time to register the “full” signal before you consider eating any more.