Hunger and cravings are both common during fasting.
They often get lumped together, when in fact they are two completely different issues.
Why is that important to know?
Because hunger and cravings are not the same, their solutions are not the same, either.
You might experience one, or you might experience both.
But knowing which is which and how to approach them is key.
Hunger is when you actually feel physically hungry for food. Your tummy might make that growling sound.
But what most of us think of as hunger, is not true hunger. It’s only a habit.
That’s something you learn after trying extended fasting. Because this transient feeling comes and goes and eventually disappears completely on a long fast.
Your body is used to getting food at certain times. If the food doesn’t come at that time, your body will remind you.
Hunger is also hormonal. Ghrelin is called the hunger hormone. When insulin goes down, ghrelin goes up. And that’s when you get that hunger signal.
Let’s talk for a moment about true hunger
So what is true hunger?
True hunger is felt more in the throat and the mouth. It might feel similar to thirst.
It IS NOT that gnawing feeling in your tummy. Nor is it the rumbly sound.
True hunger is usually experienced after a really long Extended Fast, and after many days of feeling no hunger sensations.
If you’re an Extended Faster, the return of true hunger is a signal that it’s time to break your fast with a good, safe refeed.
Cravings can be felt in the body sometimes, too, but not the same way as hunger. Your mind will focus on a specific food or flavour.
You might notice that you feel tension in parts of your body. Or you might clench your jaw.
Cravings are rooted in the emotions and stress, and they always have a trigger.
Cravings can happen at the same time as hunger, but most of the time you won’t actually feel hungry.
With hunger, you’re just hungry. You’ll eat whatever is available.
But with a craving, it’s an intense desire for that one thing that you just have to have.
So let’s look at the solutions for both.
Solutions for Hunger
Ride the Wave
Ever noticed how you can be hungry and then get busy with something and before you know it an hour has passed?
And you’re not hungry!
Where did the hunger go?
Unlike a craving, hunger is not constant.
It comes and goes. Like a wave. Rising and then falling away.
When hunger hits, just remember that it’s a wave. It will pass if you ride it out.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Most people don’t like the feeling of hunger.
But it helps if you can understand that it is just a feeling, like any other feeling.
It doesn’t have to be negative.
In fact, it is a positive feeling because it means that your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.
And it means that you are burning fat instead of storing fat.
You don’t have to like hunger, but if you can at least be at peace with it, your fasting journey will be a much happier one.
Enjoy fasting liquids
Water is of course important. Thirst can also sometimes masquerade as hunger.
But you can also try other fasting approved liquids such as tea and coffee, or even sips of bone broth.
Have you tried our fasting tea yet? It’s specifically designed to support your fast!
Take your electrolytes!
Same as with hydration, sometimes what we think is hunger is really a need for electrolytes.
Your body needs something and it’s trying to tell you that, but you’re mistaking it for hunger.
You need sodium, magnesium, and potassium during a fast. Getting those in daily makes the fast so much easier.
Try some fat
A little fat won’t break your fast (if fasting for weight loss) and it can soothe your hunger pains.
Try a pat or two of butter, or some heavy cream.
For a special treat, make some brown butter bites!
It’s yummy and will not break your fast. There are lots of youtube videos on how to make it.
Solutions for Cravings
Know your triggers and make a plan
If you can recognize your triggers, you can plan for them.
Next time you have a craving, make some observations.
Was something stressful happening right before the craving hit?
What were you thinking about? What were you doing? Were you bored? Worried?
Make a note of that trigger and then make a plan for what you can do next time it happens.
And when it does happen, put your plan into action ASAP.
Get rid of the foods you crave
If you can, keep those things you crave the most out of the house.
And if it’s not possible because of family, at least keep it somewhere that’s not easy to get to.
Make a promise to yourself
Write the craving down.
Now promise yourself that if you are still craving it when your fast is over, you will have some then.
And keep the promise. But chances are you won’t be craving it by then.
Think past the craving
We always imagine how good the thing that we’re craving is going to be, how good it’s going to make us feel in that moment.
But don’t stop there!
Go past that moment and think about how you’re going to feel after you give in.
How are you going to feel emotionally?
You’ll probably be beating yourself up for not sticking to your goals.
How will you feel physically?
Most of the things we crave are not exactly healthy foods and usually leave us feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
Is it really worth all that?
Cut out artificial sweeteners!
There are differing opinions as to whether or not they break a fast, one thing is for sure – artificial sweeteners will make your cravings worse!
If you’re craving something salty, guess what? You might just be low on sodium.
Craving chocolate? Maybe you need magnesium.
You get the idea.
Consider digging deeper
Cravings can be rooted deep in the emotions and sometimes past traumas.
There are techniques that can help you get to the root of the issue and dissolve it.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), hypnotherapy, and meditation all work well for cravings and food addictions.
Neither hunger nor cravings should be accompanied by nausea or weakness.
If you feel unwell you should break the fast.
And of course always consult with your doctor.
Whether it’s hunger or cravings, or both, we hope our tips will help you push through.