Food

How to Handle a Hunger Meltdown

What to do when you're tired, stressed and starving

It's the end of a long and chaotic day and somehow, between the gym, work, meetings, errands, and the kids, you've haven’t had time to eat much of anything. All you can think about is food, preferably something fast, convenient and inevitably high in calories. During stressful moments like these it's easy to overeat, by the time you've gone through that entire pizza or cheeseburger with large fries and a milkshake it's shockingly easy to go way over your SmartPointsTM allowance for the day. Not only will extreme hunger be replaced with an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, there's also the possibility of feeling regret and shame after a fast food binge. The good news is that this happens to almost everyone; you aren't alone in this struggle. The even better news is that these moments can be looked at as learning experiences instead of failures. Assembling an emergency kit for situations just like these is a great way to empower yourself while simultaneously reinforcing healthy eating habits.

Attack your hunger with a snack
It's no surprise that our bodies demand foods that are high in carbohydrates and fat when faced with an entire day without food. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and fatty foods taste good, especially when accompanied by salt. At the end of the day, the focus is on immediacy; you need to eat and you need to eat fast. More often than not, a filling snack can be all it takes to make or break your healthy eating efforts. However, there are times when even the thought of choosing and preparing a snack is daunting. Instead of waiting until the point of no return, equip your fridge with a special selection of nutritious snacks that are easy to grab without having to put any thought into your choice. Pack a large container or fridge drawer with snacks that can be eaten immediately, such as string cheese, hard boiled eggs, yogurt cups, individual portions of your favourite nut butters or hummus, cut up vegetables, low sugar energy bars and sliced fruit. Combine any of these options so that you have a roughly equal ratio of carbohydrate, fats and protein for optimal fulfillment. Try to eat your snack without distractions, paying attention to how you feel as you eat, allowing yourself a few moments of mindful eating before you plan your actual meal.

Make a meal in minutes
After you’ve eaten your snack, take a few minutes to prepare a quick dinner for yourself. Just like with your emergency snack kit, keep an emergency dinner kit of foods that can be put together in under 15 minutes. Frozen vegetables can be added to jarred tomato sauce or pesto for a quick pasta dinner. Scrambled eggs with baby spinach, salsa and whole grain toast can be put together in under 10 minutes. Fill a wrap with bagged salad mix, shredded chicken, a tablespoon of chopped almonds and your favourite salad dressing or mix a can of tuna with Greek yogurt, chopped scallions or chives (use scissors for quick chopping), lemon, pepper and halved grape tomatoes for a satisfying and almost instantaneous supper. If even these recipes seem too difficult or time consuming in the moment, remember that it's still perfectly respectable to have a bowl of cold cereal and a piece of fruit.

Realize it doesn’t always go according to plan
Perhaps most important of all, make sure to be kind to yourself. Weight loss and maintenance is a journey, not an end game, and there will inevitably be days where things just don’t happen according to plan despite all the planning in the world. The easier you are on yourself, the more likely you’ll find ways to adapt and learn from stressful situations. Setbacks are only temporary and a normal part of life, no one can be perfect all of the time, so focus on all of the wonderful changes you’ve made and stay proud of your long term efforts.