- Increase your portion sizes (especially fats and proteins) for regular meals
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Build up a emergency tool kit of safe snacks
Hunger is one of the biggest problems you’ll face when starting the no starch diet.
Especially if you do the full elimination diet.
(Which you should definitely do, without a shadow of a doubt).
It’s a new regime, a shock to the system and your body and brain need time to adapt.
But that doesn’t make it easy.
In the early stages of the diet it’s already hard enough knowing exactly what you can and can’t eat…
You feel clueless and panicky.
Is this vegetable starchy? Does this sauce contain dairy?
It can feel like a minefield to begin with not knowing which dishes and foods contain what.
With all this going on there’s a good chance, to begin with at least, that you will feel hungry a lot of the time, no matter what you do.
There are two important things to say upfront:
- This is normal
This is a dramatic change in diet and you’re no longer having things your body has been used to having for years… decades even.
It’s almost like giving up a drug, there is a period of withdrawal.
But the good news is this…
- It does get better naturally as your body adapts
Remember your body is used to having a raft of different foods which contain starch.
Your brain has got used to certain tastes and hormone releases and your body has got used used to processing and digesting foods in a certain way.
It’s ‘first day at school’ territory and you need a period of adjustment.
There are a number of different things you can do to handle the no starch hunger.
Let’s put them in order of priority.
1. Increase your portion sizes
I found that when you’re eating a lot of salad, which I have every day for lunch, it doesn’t really fill you up at all. We’re used to having a small amount of protein on a salad because typically we might have it with something else such as bread or another course.
But on the no starch diet you’re going to need a really decent hunk of meat or protein on there.
Figure out what works for you.
2. Put olive oil or avocado oil on everything
When people first recommended this to me on the no. Starch Facebook group a kind of didn’t really get it.
It just seems a bit ridiculous like it wouldn’t really work. But honestly if you can slather everything in either of these oils it improves the flavour and it will just give you that extra nudge of fullness.
3. Find compliant snacks that work for you
This was a huge one for me. Especially at the beginning of the no starch diet.
I felt hungry all the time to panicky levels and often I just needed something I could munch on that didn’t require making a full meal.
When you do your elimination diet, you will figure out what triggers pain and what doesn’t, So it’s really best you take your own journey on that and figure out what works for you.
However, I will share here the snacks that are currently ok for me (remember this is after exhaustive testing, you’ll need to try introducing each gradually during the elimination diet to see what works for you).
Green and black olives
Olives tend to be safe for most people and because they often taste salty (because most are cured and fermented) you’ll tend to drink water with them which help help stave off hunger.
Try to avoid any that are mixed with sun-dried tomatoes or stored in any nasty preservatives or ingredients you don’t recognise.
Natural pork scratchings
It’s super important you either make these yourself or order paleo or keto pork scratchings from a reputable provider. I get mine from a farm shop on eBay for example.
It needs to just be the pork scratchings cooked in their own fat and then you can apply your own salt as wanted or needed.
This is a really great one for filling you up as the fat associates your appetite quickly and fat can be really good for you.
Goat’s yoghurt with blueberries and/or honey
This is one of my favourites because it tastes delicious. Luckily for me I have absolutely no reaction to either goats, yoghurt or goats cheese, and in fact I find it benefits my health having these because it’s a great source of calcium.
Most days I will have a modest bowl. Maybe a third or a half of the carton of goats yoghurt and put in one teaspoon of wild honey and mix that in. If I have blueberries or raspberries I will put half a handful of those in as well and mix that in.
It tastes great and it’s a really good one for filling you up.
Truffle sausage with goats cheese
Is probably my favourite one. To be really careful where you get your truffle sausage. I have a good delicatessen near me and I check the ingredients with them and there is no starch in theirs and though there are a couple of ingredients I wouldn’t normally have, They are in such small quantities. I don’t seem to have a reaction to it.
I cut these into thin slices and then I also cut my goats cheese into smallish slices. I then put the cheese on top of the meat and I eat them as mini bites.
Blanched almonds roasted in olive oil and rosemary
This is another firm favourite.
Personally, I could eat these forever but I do get a very slight reaction if I go to overboard so I tend to eat these on special occasions or on the weekend when I’m having a drink with my partner.
4. Try intermittent fasting
Having just said all I had to say about snacking just now this will sound contradictory but if you find the eating, any food in general will trigger you to some degree and bring on some symptoms however low level. Then it’s worth being smart about how you do this.
I do a modified form of intermittent fasting whereby I never eat breakfast unless it’s a special occasion or I’m with other people.
I then have a long walk in the morning after getting ready and doing some work to stave off the ankylosing spondylitis and this is my most important walk of the day.
I then get back and do a bit more work before having lunch and this really is probably the key meal of the day because it’s this that sets the tone for whether I’m going to feel like I need to snack later on.
If I have enough in terms of portion sizes during this meal then I will normally be fine and won’t need to go to crazy and will hopefully make it to dinner time without needing to snack.
5. Snack right after a meal (if you need to)
But here is my top trick and this is probably one of the most effective food tips I’ve found in terms of trying to stick to intermittent fasting while also stating off hunger.
As soon as I finish lunch If I know I might be hungry an hour or 2 hours or 3 hours later, I will start snacking pretty much immediately after lunch. I will have everything I need to have until I feel full and then I will stop.
And then I make sure I have hot drinks throughout the day and plenty of water.
6. Drink plenty of water
Water really fills you up and it will never trigger pain.
Don’t just have a little glass besides your desk or table. Have a big glass. I use a pint glass. Then if you’re feeling hungry, but you know you’ve eaten enough food, you can take a big swig and that will help.
7. Try this as a mid afternoon pick me up
Then the other big hunger beater is my magic pint of electrolytes and apple cider vinegar.
You will need to figure out for yourself the efficacy of this during your elimination diet and when you test supplements one by one, but for me it is incredibly effective.
In fact, it’s one of the most effective things I’ve found for staving off cramps in the night and also for helping keep those energy levels up a bit.
Up at one scoop of electrolytes into a pint glass and I then pour the equivalent of around three large tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into that and then I slowly top up the rest with water and allow it to dissolve for a couple of minutes.
Then I drink the whole lot in one go and wash my mouth out afterwards to stop the apple cider vinegar causing any damage to my teeth enamel.
I typically do this at around 4:00 pm which is a good time of day to break up the monotony and give yourself a burst of energy and try and keep any hunger at bay.
At dinner time I have a similar routine to lunchtime. When I was starting out my diet and I figured out the snacks I could have. I found that I was having dinner and then staying up late until midnight and snacking all the way through to that time.
If you are doing the form of intermittent fasting that I am, this isn’t a great idea because you will end up shortening the length of time your body goes without food.
I typically eat at 8:00 p.m. and so if I can finish eating at the end of that meal and not eat again until 1:00 p.m the next day I am getting a full X without fitting food in my stomach and potentially triggering anything AS related.
However, if I’m technically snacking until midnight, I’ve dramatically reduced that time and suddenly instead of it being a 16, 17, or 18 hour fast It becomes a 11-hour fast and that is not nearly as effective in my experience.
So those are my top tips for staving off hunger.
The thing that will make you most hungry is the elimination diet… but it’s also the thing that will get you out of that funk fastest.
The quicker you can find out what foods you can eat that will make you thrive (and wont trigger you) the quicker you’ll know what you can eat.
Once you have multiple foods and you’re arsenal, you will be able to have a good stock in your fridge and your cupboards that you can turn to in times of need.
And keep faith.
When you start this diet it is hard. Remember your body is missing those food groups and it is missing the feeling of having that starchy carby fullness.
That does pass eventually, but you do need to ensure you’re getting enough food and staying on top of things and keeping healthy.
If you’re in any doubt, contact a medical professional and speak to a dietitian so that you can get the right balance for you.