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How to Control Your Appetite and Cravings

Increased appetite and hunger pangs are your nemesis when you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most weight loss diets lead to severe cravings that make it difficult to stop binging on unhealthy food. While feeling hungry is normal, cravings are not. They are generally caused by spikes in your blood sugar levels. Learning how to control your appetite and keep cravings at bay can be the most important step on your path to weight loss and lasting health. Here are a few tips to prevent cravings and control your appetite.

1. Do not confuse thirst with food cravings.

Water is truly an elixir and your best friend when it comes to controlling your appetite. If you find yourself craving a specific food or sugar fix, reach for a tall glass of water instead. Wait for a few minutes and you might find that you were actually thirsty and not hungry at all. Drinking plenty of water has many health benefits: it can keep your skin clear, acts one of the best appetite suppressants, can reduce cravings and often helps with weight loss.

2. Increase your protein intake.

Research shows that loading up on high quality protein can help reduce your appetite and stops you from overeating when you sit down for your next meal. Start your day with whole eggs or other protein-rich breakfast foods. This can keep you full longer, thereby, keeping your appetite in check and your cravings low. Reducing your calorie intake is a requisite for losing weight, and a high protein intake may prevent the loss of muscle mass while you are dieting. In fact, studies show that high protein intake is an appetite buster that cuts your craving for unhealthy midnight snacks by up to 50%.

3. Get enough dietary fiber from your meals.

Foods like leafy greens, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds are full of dietary fiber content. They also contain a number of nutrients such as antioxidants, plant compounds, minerals, and vitamins. Not only do fiber-rich foods nutritious, they also can help decrease hunger, keep you feeling full, and often reduce the number of calories you eat in subsequent meals.

4. Keep away from foods you crave.

Like any other addiction, you cannot expect yourself to resist cravings if the foods you want are available right in front of you. When temptation to binge on unhealthy food arises, step out for a walk or do a quick HIIT workout instead. Some studies show that chewing gum may also help control appetite and reduce cravings. However, make sure that you are chewing sugar-free gum so as to keep your calorie count on track. Keep in mind that cravings can typically last for up to 10 minutes, so try to ride it out.

5. Eat your calories instead of drinking them.

Smoothies and replacement meal drinks are very popular today. However, studies show that eating solid foods can help you stay full longer. We believe there are a few reasons for this phenomenon. First, solid foods require more chewing, and this gives your brain enough time to acknowledge when you have had enough. This chewing time also ensures that your taste buds remain in play for longer, which is believed to prolong satiety and control your appetite. Second, chewing your food mindfully instead of rushing through meals helps you savor every bite.

6. Load up on dark chocolate.

Milk chocolate contains too much sugar to be of any use to your weight loss goals. On the other hand, dark chocolate has many benefits. Chocolate with at least 70% cocoa has a bitter taste (is can be offset by the taste of black coffee). This bitterness can help reduce your appetite and craving for sweets. Dark chocolate also contains stearic acid that is believed to slow down the process of digestion and keep you full longer. Interestingly, studies show that simply smelling dark chocolate with 85% cocoa controls appetite and can keep hunger hormones in check.

7. Do not wait until you’re extremely hungry before eating.

Most people feel strong cravings when they’ve not eaten in a while. This also causes you to overeat at the next meal. Eating multiple small meals throughout the day ensures that you do not get extremely hungry. By not delaying meals and keeping healthy snacks at hand, you may be able to get rid of cravings completely.

8. Add ginger and peppers to your diet.

Other than reducing nausea, inflammation, and muscle aches, ginger also helps regulate blood sugar levels and control appetite. Sweet peppers contain capsiate while spicy peppers are full of capsaicin. Both these compounds have been studied and are found to reduce hunger and keep your stomach feeling full longer. Other studies show that hot peppers create heat in the body which may actually help you burn more calories faster after you have eaten.

9. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

One of the most common reasons for overeating and excessive cravings is stress. Stress causes a number of other psychosomatic problems including insomnia. Getting enough sleep can help to keep your stress levels in check, reduce hunger, and protect you from weight gain. Research shows that getting less sleep causes an appetite increase of up to 24%.

Next Steps: Start Controlling Your Appetite

Feeling hungry is a natural signal sent by your brain to remind you to provide nutrition to your body. Do not ignore hunger but make sure that you are eating the right things and doing whatever you can to control your appetite and reduce cravings – this list is a great place to start at.

Sources

Clark, M. J., & Slavin, J. L. (n.d.). The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: A systematic review. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010, February). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Epel, E., Lapidus, R., McEwen, B., & Brownell, K. (2001, January). Stress may add bite to appetite in women: A laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Hetherington, M. M., & Regan, M. F. (2011, October). Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Leidy, H. J., Tang, M., Armstrong, C. L., Martin, C. B., & Campbell, W. W. (2011, April). The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Retrieved April 10, 2018.

Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2008, August 07). Protein intake and energy balance. Retrieved April 10, 2018.