Eating healthy foods—whether to lose weight, manage a chronic illness, or simply improve your overall well-being—is a worthy goal, but one that doesn’t always come easy. Being surrounded by incredible restaurants and a delicious food culture like the one here in Boston provides one obvious hurdle to overcome. Plus, if your friends and loved ones don’t share the same get-healthy goal as you do, it can be socially challenging to make better choices when your circle of influence doesn’t care to join you.

Another major issue faced by people who’ve made the choice to eat healthier is hunger. Sure, you may be re-discovering your love for fresh produce, lean animal protein, and healthy fats—but what gives with all the stomach growls that could wake up a sleeping dog or disrupt your 11:00 a.m. class?

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Hunger is not a bad thing per se, but if you’re always hungry on your new healthy diet, it could be a sign that you need to do some tinkering with your eating plan.

5 Reasons Why You’re Hungrier Than Ever On Your New “Clean” Diet (And What You Can Do About It)

1. You’re eating foods that are a lot lower in calories.

To lose body fat, you need to replace calorically-dense and nutrient-poor foods like bread and pasta with things like fresh vegetables. Naturally, if you’re used to consuming a ton of calories, then your body may feel hungry with the switch to foods like broccoli, celery, and spinach. The solution: eat as many vegetables as you can handle (sauté, steam, or roast to make them more palatable), and try eating your veggies with plenty of healthy fat, like avocado, coconut oil, nuts, or grass-fed butter.

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2. You’re having smaller portion sizes.

In general, people need to eat a lot less than they think, and learning how to improve portion control is a major component to healthy eating. That said, to combat excessive hunger, you may need to eat multiple small meals throughout the day, or at least be sure that you’re eating enough at every meal to feel satisfied, but not “stuffed.”

3. You may not be drinking enough water.eating-healthy-still-hungry

A lot of time what feels like hunger is actually thirst. If you’ve cut out sugary drinks and other unhealthy beverages—good for you! Just be sure to replace all that fluid with enough water–aim for at least half your body weight in fluid ounces per day.

4. You’re probably working out more.

Daily exercise goes right along with healthy eating, and while fat loss isn’t as simple as “calories in, calories out,” you do need to make sure you’re eating enough to support increased physical activity, a faster metabolism, and muscle growth. Make sure you always have some healthy protein within 30-45 minutes after your workout, and consider adding a few healthy carbs to your post-workout snack if your workout was longer than an hour.

5. You may actually be mistaking your food cravings for true physiological hunger.

Sugar, salt, bad fat, and processed foods play a funny trick on our stomachs. They can make us feel “hungry” when in fact we’re just crashing from the high that we feel immediately after consuming these unhealthy foods. When you cut these foods out, it may take you awhile to get over the cravings. Keep your water bottle close by, and consider chewing some sugar-free gum or drinking mint tea to stave off the pseudo-hunger pangs. Keep in mind that when you change what you eat, you may also have to change why you eat, too. Many of us realize that we’ve been “emotional eating” for a long time, and making the switch to healthier foods may force us to adopt new ways to celebrate or cope with our emotions.

Got any tips that help you stay comfortable on a new nutrition plan? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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