For the last couple of weeks, I have had many days when I have been absolutely ravenous. No matter what I ate or how much, I kept getting hungry every hour or so -- and not boredom hunger or thirst-mistaken-for-hunger either. I'm talking full-on, hunger pangs, stomach growling, hungry. Since I follow Weight Watchers to maintain my weight, I know I was eating enough, because I was using all of my points and then some, but I still wasn't satisfied. I wasn't eating bad foods -- I was getting in fruits and veggies, using whole grains, drinking soy milk, eating soy yogurt...I was just HUNGRY.
So I did some searches on a couple of my favorite vegetarian and vegan message boards, and found that I was not alone in having a time after going vegan that I just felt so hungry, almost constantly. That made me feel quite a bit better...but still left me hoping it would pass after I started gaining a bit of weight from exceeding my points allotment (even though I was listening to my hunger signals and eating when I was hungry). I'm not sure what causes it -- many of the posts I read suggested that the original posters simply weren't eating enough after they had replaced higher calorie animal-based products with more fruits and vegetables and lower calorie items. But I haven't had meat since Thanksgiving, and I was already eating a lot of fruits and veggies. Plus, since I am used to counting my points and was able to feel satisfied on 29 PointsPlus last year, it seemed strange that I suddenly needed to eat 50 or 55 PointsPlus in a day to feel satisfied.
Thankfully, it seems to have finally passed. I think that although I was eating plenty of calories, I wasn't getting enough dietary fat, which was leaving me feeling a little unsatisfied all the time. (And, since those calories weren't coming from fat, they were most often coming from carbs, which are notoriously less satisfying.) Even though it was an annoyance to feel hungry all the time, I do think it made me more acutely aware of paying attention to exactly what I am taking in and making sure that I get enough fats (and protein) so that I stay fuller longer.
I've started eating more peanut butter, and eating a larger breakfast with whole grains, nut butter, fruit, and soy milk, and that also seems to help. As much as I hate "spending" a large amount of points on nuts or nut butters, it seems to save me in the long run because I was eating far more points in other foods just trying to satisfy my hunger. Spreading my calories out evenly throughout the day, allotting approximately the same amount to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and an equal amount to the total of all of my snacks throughout the day, also seems to have made a huge difference. I guess breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. ;)