5 Foolproof Ways for Curbing Your Appetite
Maintaining a healthy weight is a simple equation of burning more calories than you’re taking in. But when your stomach is growling and you’re surrounded by unhealthy, fattening foods (Hello, donut shop on your way to work. Hey there, chocolate-chip cookies in the office kitchen. Hola, junk food vending machine inside the car rental place), it’s way too easy to make poor decisions that cause your “calories in” to skyrocket. The trick is to follow a few tips for managing food cravings.
1. Fill up on protein and fiber.
Both protein and fiber will make you feel full longer. There’s a reason a veggie omelet holds you off from eating until lunchtime better than that carb-loaded bagel. For maximum benefit, make protein 30 percent of your total calorie intake. And don’t forget about adding fiber-rich foods like beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils to soups, salads, and sandwiches to keep you from mindlessly snacking.
2. Avoid skipping meals and or grazing throughout the day.
Often, we skip a meal like breakfast or lunch will with the false assumption that it will create a calorie deficit. But ironically, it almost certainly leads to overeating and excess weight gain. This is because skipping meals causes a dip in blood sugar, which leads to overeating the rest of the day. Conversely, grazing throughout the day can lead to overeating because we never feel satiated and lose track of our calorie intake. Therefore, the way to go is to eat three nutritious meals a day, plus one snack that’s a good mix of healthy proteins, fats, and carbs. And here’s a crucial point: never go more than four hours between meals. It’s the key to keeping your blood sugar and hunger hormone levels stable.
3. Hydrate with water.
I’m sure you’ve heard that often dehydration is mistaken for hunger. In large part this is because dehydration makes us weak tired and lethargic so it’s easily mistaken for low blood sugar. Plus, water creates a feeling of fullness. So, when hunger pangs strike, pour yourself a tall glass of H2O. And drinking water after your meal may prevent you from indulging in a second helping. If plain water’s not your thing, try soda water and flavor it with crushed mint leaves or slices of lemon or lime. Your body will thank you.
4. Be a mindful eater.
Too many people eat because they think they’re hungry—when in reality they’re distracted, bored, or letting their emotions get the best of them. If you’re following my four meals (including a snack) within four hours rule, and you’re still reaching for more food, chances are you’re not paying attention to your body’s cues. Next time you feel the need to eat between meals do a hunger check. How long ago did you eat? Are you physically feeling hunger pangs or are you just stressed or bored? If in fact you aren’t actually experiencing physical sensations of hunger try engaging in a positive distraction.
5. Find new ways to reduce stress.
On that note, if you do find you are emotional eating, the most important thing is to be aware of it—and to find ways to redirect your stress or anxiety that don’t involve food. Reconnect with a friend. Get a massage. Dive into an inspirational book. And, of course, go outside and do something active! Exercise will re-energize you and release endorphins that will help snap you out of a funk.