There are justifiable instances when you don’t want to eat or, better said, it would be good for you if you could avoid eating. Or at least postpone eating until a more appropriate time or healthier, better suited options become available. For example, if you have acid reflux disease you may want to avoid eating late at night, even though you may be hungry by the time you go to sleep.
Similarly, if you’re on a diet to lose excess weight for the purpose of improving your health, you’ll naturally feel hungry quite frequently, even though you’re feeding yourself nourishing food in sufficient amounts. This is when it’s best not to give into calorie-packed, overly processed junk foods and wait for a healthy, nutritious meal that is maybe an hour away.
Feeling hungry is not a bad thing – hunger can be allowed to continue for a limited time in most people, without any negative impact on health and wellbeing. Exceptions do exist and include diabetics needing to have tight control over their blood sugar levels, for example. The feeling of hunger is short-lived and usually goes away by itself.
More important, the body is remarkable in that is self-regulates and taps into its fat stores for nutritional resources when food is needed, but not available. Bottom line is: it’s okay to feel hungry! But how can you resist feeling hungry and not eat? See below my 6 tips on what to do to avoid eating when you don’t want to eat.
1- Go for a walk to physically distance yourself from food and wait out hunger
You can successfully postpone additional eating, and even avoid it altogether at the end of the day, if you go for a walk. Something as simple as taking a 30-minute walk outside when you’re feeling hungry can help keep you away from temptation while the feeling of hunger fades away.
Not just this, but walking counts as light physical exercise. Since your body isn’t getting food to fuel the physical effort because you’re out not eating, it will just resort to its accessing its fat stores. This has the added benefit of losing weight.
A light walk is also great for the brain – the mind busies itself with processing info from the walk (e.g. places, people’s faces, smells, overcoming obstacles such as crossing the street) and forgets about eating being a pressing matter. Especially at the end of the day, a light walk helps with better sleep as it tires the body and calms the mind. And you’ll also sleep better from not eating because you won’t have acid reflux at night.
2- Read to keep yourself busy and give the body time to self-regulate
Say you’ve had dinner and have eaten sufficiently, but are still one or two hours away from bed time. You don’t want to eat again, or feel it’s better not to eat anything else (for whatever reason), but are afraid you will because you’re bored or stressed or simply not ready to go to sleep yet.
A good solution is to get reading. Whether it’s a favorite mystery novel or an interesting article in a paper, or even catching up with blog posts, this can help you not eat. Reading busies the brain and keeps you occupied – your interest is focused on something else than the ice cream waiting in the freezer. Alternatively, you can watch a movie or an episode of your favorite show.
Reading can help you wait out the hunger sensation and counteract the boredom, all the while giving your body time to self-regulate, that is, tap into fat stores for needed fuel without you needing to eat. After a while, the body becomes more efficient in switching from waiting for food to getting its fuel itself from fat stores, and hunger ends up having less of an impact on your mindset.
3- Have a herbal tea to fill you up and relax you
They say you can have an apple when you’re hungry to stop hunger and keep you going until your next meal, or the next day. But apples, and other fruits, make a lot of people even hungrier. Fruits naturally contain organic acids that exert a slight irritating effect on the stomach lining, stimulating hunger.
If you want to avoid eating, especially late at night after you’ve already had dinner, then a cup of warm, unsweetened herbal tea might just be the solution you were looking for. The bigger the cup of tea, the better.
Warm herbal tea is soothing on the body and mind – it helps warm you up and produces relaxation both because it induces vasodilation, and because many herbs for tea have mild sedative constituents that act on the nervous system, inducing relaxation and even encouraging and promoting sleep.
Do avoid green tea because green tea has caffeine which is stimulating on the nervous system and irritating on the digestive system, causing you to both stay up and making it more likely you’ll eat again. Black tea and white tea do the same.
Instead, go for relaxing herbal tea options such as rose hip tea, rooibos, or rose hips with rooibos, berries mix tea, St John’s wort, hawthorn tea, passionflower, linden flower tea, linden leaf tea, valerian tea, lemon balm, orange tea with cinnamon, or even lavender. And have your tea in bed, not in the kitchen where all the delicious food is.
Ideally, herbal tea should be consumed unsweetened. However, if you are not allergic, a tablespoon of a raw honey of your choice can make the not-eating a lot more tolerable by raising your blood sugar levels so that you don’t feel faint and satisfying sweet cravings in a healthy way. You can even pair your honey with your tea such as linden flower tea with linden honey or hawthorn flower tea with hawthorn honey or even raspberries tea or raspberry leaf tea with raspberry flower honey.
4- Have flavored water to curb hunger and fill you up
Flavored water is a great way to delay a meal, especially during the day. Add pieces of your favorite fruit or vegetable to still water, or some freshly squeezed juice, or both – the added flavor will make the water more palatable and encourage drinking.
Upping your intake of water will keep you hydrated and raise blood volume, helping you feel energized and full of vitality. Just as important, water fills you up and curbs hunger, helping delay eating for up to a good few hours.
There are many options for flavored water depending on your preferences and sensitivities. It’s important to avoid acidic options such as lemon and lemon juice and other citrus fruits and juices, as well as pineapple if you have digestive issues such as acid reflux, gastritis or an ulcer. Instead go for safer options such as watermelon, blackberry, raspberry, carrot or cucumber water.
You can also add spices and herbs for even more flavor. Blackberries go well with sage or rosemary, strawberries with mint or basil, pineapple with coconut or mint. Or you can pair two or more fruit or vegetables such as: mandarins and grapefruit, mandarins and blackberries, cranberries and orange, mango and kiwifruit, kiwifruit and grapes, blueberries and peach, strawberry and orange, apple and carrot or blueberries and cucumber.
5- Drink naturally sparkling water
A great way to avoid eating when you don’t want to is to drink water. And not just any water: naturally sparkling water! Naturally sparkling water is bubbly and fresh, and even makes a great substitute for soda when it’s chilled.
Not only does it have a wonderful, refreshing mouthfeel, but it also fills you up and curbs hunger. The naturally occurring bubbles incorporate air which fills up the stomach, stopping hunger and delaying eating.
Naturally sparkling water naturally has small amounts of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium for a boost in hydration and vitality. If possible, go for glass-bottled sparkling water.
6- Exercise to keep yourself busy, burn calories and boost metabolic expenditure
Some people need more to completely and decisively defeat hunger, even if for just a couple of hours. If you are one of these people, then engaging in physical exercise can be the solution for you. The type of exercise you do can vary from running in the park or on the treadmill at home to going for a swim in the pool or at the beach to riding your bike or lifting weights, but any kind of exercise will do so long as it satisfies you mentally.
The best part is that exercise will not just help prevent overeating, but it will also burn calories which will help you lose weight and build more muscle to increase your metabolic rate, resulting in increased calorie consumption and better weight control.
If you take into account changing into and out of workout clothes, showering, driving to and from the gym or the time it takes you to get to the park or beach or pool, or just setting up your workout station at home, then even a 30-minute exercise routine is more than enough to keep you from eating for a few hours.
There are instances when not wanting to eat is justifiable. But to achieve it successfully, and without too much personal sacrifice, means that, when you do eat, you have to eat right. When you are treating your body right by eating clean, varied, balanced and natural, you are making sure you are healthy and feeling great.
Even if you want to delay a meal or avoid eating altogether at night, make sure that during the day you have at least 3 meals and, if needed, healthy snacks to keep you optimally nourished and well-fed. Stay hydrated and supplement if the need arises.
It helps to try to eat what you like most of the time, but make sure you have healthy options. Everyone has plenty of healthy foods they like and could eat all the time, even though it may look like the palate can never recover from junk food or processed food, so go for these every chance you get.
This post was updated on Tuesday / September 28th, 2021 at 11:16 AM