Curbing our appetite

in Features

Do you experience mid-morning munchies? In frequent need of a late afternoon sugar hit? Suddenly feeling ravenous at certain times of the day is a common experience, however, a fluctuating appetite can make it difficult to manage our weight, as well as causing low mood and grumpiness.

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University have discovered that feeling ‘hangry’, a portmanteau of hungry and angry actually exists.  Being hungry was associated with greater levels of anger and irritability, as well as lower levels of pleasure.

These two areas can help regulate your appetite:

Healthy Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically those in algae oils and fish may increase the levels of leptin, a fullness hormone, in obese people. Consume other healthy fats from natural sources like avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds to control your hunger. Note that diets that are very low in fat may increase your hunger, instead of reducing it, so consider following low-fat diets in moderation.

High-Fiber Foods

Unlike other foodstuffs, fiber does not break down to be digested, it therefore stays in the body for a longer period and slows down digestion, making you feel satisfied all day long. Fiber-rich foods stretch the stomach, slowing its emptying rate and triggers the release of fullness hormones. More viscous, soluble fiber found in food such as oatbran, barley and legumes may be more effective in reducing appetite compared to the less viscous ones, while fermentable fiber in the bowel produces short-chain fatty acids which may help promote feelings of fullness and nourish the colon wall. High-fiber diets are linked to lower obesity rates. Foods high in protein and fibre are effective at generating satiety, because of their breakdown and release of nutrients.

Learning to control hunger is probably the biggest hurdle when you are on a weight loss plan. It’s a complaint people make more often than any other. Some people gripe about counting calories or keeping a food diary; others grumble about making time to exercise. A regular statement is that individuals feel hungry all the time.

There are plenty of tricks that can help you control hunger naturally. The first step is to figure out if you are really and truly hungry in the first place.

How to Recognise if you are Genuinely Hungry

Feeling hungry is not the same thing as “wanting something to eat.” There are a few telltale signs that can help you distinguish stress-related or emotional hunger from true, physical hunger.

First, ask yourself these questions:

• Does your stomach rumble?

• Is your energy level dipping?

• Do you have a little bit of “brain fog” or feel “cranky”?

If any of those things happen to you, you probably do need some fuel. These are all common symptoms of true hunger. When you feel this way, your body is likely to respond when you eat something—and you will probably feel better.

If you’re eating for reasons other than hunger—if you’re just bored, anxious or depressed—food probably won’t make you any less bored, anxious or depressed. If it does, you probably won’t feel that way for long.

If it’s emotion or stress that’s driving you, or if you got the urge to eat something simply because it looked good or smelled good, you’re probably not truly hungry. In that case, you will need to find other ways to deal with the urge to eat.

Positive ways to Control Your Hunger

Hunger control is aimed at curbing true hunger: the growling stomach, the low energy or the irritability that often comes when your body needs fuel. Since true hunger naturally drives you to eat, you’ll want to learn some healthy, hunger-stopping strategies if your goal is to lose weight through calorie restriction.

So, here are 5 tips to control hunger and curb your appetite.

1. Eat protein as a hunger curber

Protein satisfies hunger better than carbohydrates or fat. Try to include some lean protein at each meal and snack. Protein works its magic not only in your digestive tract, but it also affects your brain chemistry in a way that helps you feel satisfied and mentally sharp.
2. Fill yourself up with watery, high-fiber foods.

Water and fiber have no calories. Watery, high-fiber foods are “bulky” and take up more space in your stomach, so they help to fill you up. Most vegetables (except the starchy ones like potatoes, corn, and peas) have very few calories per serving because they contain so much water and fiber. Watery fruits like melons and pineapple, and high fiber fruits like berries, can also help fill you up for a relatively low-calorie cost.

3. Exercise can help control hunger.

A bout of exercise can suppress hunger hormones, which can curb your appetite. In order to sustain your activity, your body needs to be properly fuelled. Sometimes, in an effort to lose weight, people cut their calories too much and just don’t have the energy to keep up with their exercise. Therefore, the whole process backfires. People often state they feel as if exercise makes them hungry and leads them to eat more. This is more likely because they haven’t eaten properly before and after their workouts.

4. Drink fluids to help you feel less hungry.

Drinking fluids with your meals may make your meals feel more filling. Some people confuse thirst with hunger, so even though their bodies are craving fluid, they end up eating instead. If you stay hydrated, this is less likely to occur.

5. Eating small, regular meals can help curb your appetite.

When you eat small meals every few hours, it helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable throughout the day. This is essential since dips in your blood sugar can cause your hunger to spike. Even if you believe a smaller amount of food won’t satisfy you, the knowledge that you’ll be eating again in just a few hours often makes your hunger more manageable. 

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