How to Fight Hunger When Dieting

A Nutritarian diet-style is designed to be nutrient rich, protective against disease, and longevity enhancing.  But, the most fascinating discovery is the same diet-style that can push the envelope of human longevity, is most effective for long-term weight loss.

It is pretty tough to maintain a healthy weight if you always feel like eating more.  A recent study published in Nutrition Journal of 768 people found that those who made the switch to a high-nutrient diet were not bothered by hunger nearly as much as those whose diets included less nutritious foods. Those who ate more nutritious meals said that they felt hungry less frequently even when they skipped meals.

My clinical  findings for over 25 years were confirmed in this study, showing that the uncomfortable sensations most typically consider hunger are not hunger at all, but rather they are feelings of detoxification – like a caffeine withdrawal headache.  Those on the high nutrient-density diet found the unpleasant feelings associated with hunger were mitigated even though they were eating a lower-calorie diet. Their experience of hunger had changed.

Toxic Hunger Impedes Weight Loss

Participants reported that they did have to go through a period of adjustment to their new diet, before the unpleasant “hunger” sensations were eliminated. Toxic hunger is how I describe the withdrawal symptoms (shakiness, light-headedness, headaches, cravings) produced by the body as it tries to rid itself of the waste products produced by unhealthy, low-nutrient and processed foods. Regular consumption of these foods, which typically contain oils, sweeteners, and excessive consumption of animal products, lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, and the accumulation of toxic metabolites.

A few hours after eating low-nutrient foods, we start to feel the withdrawal symptoms, and we want to eat again to stop them. This is one of the major impediments to weight loss.  When we are not digesting food, detoxification is enhanced and we feel toxic hunger symptoms that are difficult to ignore.

However, when focus on the nutritional quality of our diet, these withdrawal symptoms slowly fade away.  Eighty percent of study participants on the high-nutrient density diet reported that their hunger was more manageable and a majority reported a dramatic or complete change in their feelings of hunger. It is not simply the caloric content but the micronutrient density of the diet that influences the experience of hunger and ultimately whether someone will want to stay with the diet or whether they will fall back into old eating patterns.

Select Foods that Won’t Leave You Hungry

A nutritarian style of eating is satisfying and gets you off the dieting merry-go-round.  To help recognize and encourage the consumption of foods with the high nutrient density, I created the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, or ANDI. The index, which has been adopted by Whole Foods Market grocery stores, is useful to those who want to discover how foods compare in nutrient density.

The ANDI ranks many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. Getting generous amounts of micronutrients per calorie with unprocessed, natural foods is the goal of any satisfying, healthy diet. Combining the high ANDI scoring vegetables and fruits with nutritional variety from beans, nuts and seeds and you can include the portfolio of foods that   nourishes your body, helps weight loss and promotes longevity.

The Best Foods to Eat

Eating a broad array of nutrient-rich, whole, plant foods provide the most complete and healthful diet. Green and colorful vegetables, cooked mushrooms, raw onions, various fruits including berries and pomegranates, beans, seeds, and nuts are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I always recommend making at least one meal each day a large, double-size salad with a nut-based dressing. This salad should include lettuce, tomatoes, shredded onion, and at least one shredded raw cruciferous vegetable, such as shredded cabbage or arugula. Eat at least a half cup to one cup of beans each day. Add beans to your salad or make a veggie-bean soup or stew. Eat a double-size portion of lightly steamed green vegetables each day. Eat cooked mushrooms and raw onions daily. Eat three fresh fruits a day by adding some fruit to your salad, or as a dessert. Eating fruit as part of a meal helps to dilute and slow the body’s absorption of the fruit’s glucose and fructose. And add a half-ounce to an ounce of nuts and seeds to each of your dishes, too. I typically recommend they be part of your salad dressing. Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds offer unique protective properties.   The right food is the most effective medicine for a healthy future.

6/25/2020 7:00:00 AM
Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a family physician, New York Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. Dr. Fuhrman is an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, and has appeared on hundreds of radio a...
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