There are days when I can probably eat close to 4000 calories (I'm 5'5", 150) and there are days when I have a normal to low appetite. I guess your initital response is to tell me to listen to my body and eat when you are hungry and don't when you are not. Well I will submit that this is easier said then done, especially when you pack your meals for work.
For instance today my first meal (packed) after jui jitsu was 5 hard boiled eggs and probably 12oz yam and I was still hungry but had nothing available. For lunch I winded up eating later then usual and had to go out to Chipotle due to a work situation. I got my staple fair of veges, double meat, sour cream, and guacamole. Now I was so freaking starving by that point that I ate it in probably 5 minutes. I was still hungry and contemplated on getting another, however, I figured i would let my food digest and I would probably be satisfied. Well about an hour later I was still hungry. For dinner I grilled some chicken (marinaded in coconut oil and Cajun spices) and green beans cooked in bacon and butter. Now this time I felt satisfied after dinner but after a short walk with the family I was hungry again. I don't like to eat to close to bed time so I decided not to. Usually, probably 80% of the time, these meals would be very satisfying.
I hope my point is clear and I apologize if I am just rambling. I guess i have two questions:
1). How do you deal with an UNexpected insatiable appetite when you plan otherwise?
2). When you are so hungry you feel like you could eat a small child how do you avoid overeating?
First I wonder if I am dehydrated. I don't know why, but I struggle with hydration. I started using a mix of sea salt and potassium salt substitute in my water bottle and remarkably, that has really affected my appetite (reducing it while increasing my energy).
Second, I look into whether I've gotten enough carbs. Yes, excess of anything is bad, but I tend to underdo the carb intake. When I get just enough that insatiable appetite feeling goes away.
I hear ya on this one, big time.
I'm assuming you're a woman as am I. I have unpredictable appetite issues as well and am chalking it up to my "cycle." I'm in the process of testing this hypothesis by tracking overall calorie intake and what it's made up of (fat/protein/carb/fiber/empty) and planning on doing so for several months to see if there is a pattern that matches my theory. (I'll be shocked if there isn't, but maybe wishful thinking.)
If that sounds potentially like what's happening for you, maybe you can track as well over a 1-2 month period to see. You could skip obsessively tracking overall caloric intake like me, and just put an "R" on your calendar on each day you're ravenous or something like that. Or, just assume there's a cyclical nature to this and govern yourself accordingly. I note that you say that 80% of the time you aren't having this "out-of-control appetite" issue as much, but I'm not sure whether the other 20% is kind of bunched together in time or spread out in more of a random pattern.
In my mind, if my appetite is linked to my monthly "friend" then that helps inform how to deal with it. If I know in advance that it's going to be this way for a certain number of days and then things will be ok after that, and if I know that it's a temporary hormonal issue somewhat out of my control and not just me being an undisciplined person, it will help me really give myself permission to eat as much as I want (within Paleo guidelines) for those few days.
I am in that same zone right now, and as a pretty on-point example last night for dinner I let myself eat 16 oz. of 100% grass-fed ground beef plus as much organic celery and almond butter as I wanted. That was following a "snack" a couple hours earlier of a whole avocado. Knowing that what I was putting into my body was all good stuff and in good (low-carb, mostly fat) proportions, and knowing (or hoping) the reason for my appetite was hormonal and temporary, I let go of the guilt. Actually I probably only ate 15 oz. of ground beef, my body said "stop" before those last few bites were gone, and I was very glad to hear that the "stop" button actually did exist.
Maybe this applies regardless of gender . . . I've seen it mentioned here and there that men have a correlating type of monthly cycle of their own.
I experienced this just yesterday. I ate everything the same as I usually do (no more, no less). Then at night it hit me why I was SOOOOOOOO starving all day even though I kept eating and eating. It was all because of FAT!
I usually have a large amount of Coconut Oil with my eggs in the morning, and then I have an avocado with my salad at lunch, and then some more coconut oil for dinner when sauteing my veggies. Well yesterday I didn't eat either of these items because I had run out of them that morning.
I even remembered back to why I was so starving while before I went paleo - because I rarely had any fat. I would eat a ton of fiber and protein, but to no avail, I was always hungry.
Now that I am eating more protein and way more healthy fats, and have gone 100 percent Paleo, I rarely feel the gnawing hunger pangs. And my hypoglycemia attacks have gone away completely!
For me, I can now tell what my body needs, and I do need a ton of fat in my diet. Not sure if this works for other people. I also have to eat very, VERY large meals. At dinner I usually have a large serving of fat, 3-4 servings of veggies, and 2 servings of meat. Keeps my good from 6pm-7am.
Pass the fat, please!
I'm experiencing this right now!
If its closer to the end of the day, then I simply just distract myself until its time to sleep. I actually find it easier sleeping on an empty stomach than full. Hunger comes and goes in waves, so its just about getting over the small hurdles.
I know everyone likes to stress the importance of listening to my body and feeding it when its hungry, but for me, I know that what I already ate is enough. Often times I can't afford to keep up with my appetite, so it does get a little frustrating.
But its easier to keep in mind that there will always be tomorrow and a nice, happy meal waiting for me.
Your yam+egg meal was only 600 calories and after a workout so maybe you legitimately need more? It sounds like you eat pretty low carb maybe your body is telling you it needs more carbs with insatiable hunger. I know personally that when I did a very low fat diet I would eat 4-5k calories and still be hungry, I started eating a bit more fat, I decreased my calories and the hunger completely went away.
For those times that you didn't pack enough lunch why not keep some nuts or other satisfying, non-perishable food in your desk to supplement your lunch? That way you don't have to deal with problem number 2.
I definitely empathise with you. Between school, work and the gym, it can be really frustrating when my appetite is so unpredictable. Some days (usually after training) I feel like I could eat a small child. I've realised though, that being hungry for a little while won't kill me, but even so I tend to bring food with me wherever I go because that gnawing feeling in your stomach can be unbearable. Other days, I fast efforlessly for up to 24 hours. It's really a matter of being prepared (as in, make sure you have food options wherever you are, preferably non-perishable or kept refrigerated so they won't spoil if you don't feel like eating). All you can do is make sure you have plenty of food on you at all times, just in case. Also, if you can attribute your hunger to something (perhaps training, like mine is), then you can be in a better position to plan. Good luck!