35 Ways to Control your Appetite [FDA APPROVED]
Do you find yourself always asking the question, “Why Am I So Hungry?” You are not alone in examining this question day in and day out. Thousands of people wonder what is causing their feelings of hunger to increase and how to get their temptation for food under control. There is little doubt that all of these inexplicable cravings contribute to excessive weight gain.
Imagine the impact you could have on the scale if you were able to curb your appetite naturally? Controlling your appetite is not something that happens overnight. First, you have to understand what is happening within your body from a physiological standpoint and you must be ready to conduct a bit of self-reflection before you can push forward with the next steps.
Knowing what is causing your hunger pangs is essential to pinpoint the reasons why you cannot stop eating!
Real Vs. Fake Hunger: Why Do I Think I Am Hungry?
Identifying real hunger from fake hunger can leave you questioning your sanity. Unfortunately, during the course of a day, there is a real chance that something else aside from real hunger may be triggering your latest craving.
Sometimes, the feeling of hunger may mask a whole other symptom that is happening within our bodies. The desire for food is often our body’s way of requesting help with some other essential need or function within our body.
Identifying hunger requires one to consider a bevy of scenarios that might be causing you to feel hungry from medical conditions to your latest food choices, there are a vast number of reasons you might think you are hungry.
14 Reasons You Are Having Food Cravings
Here are few reasons your stomach might be craving food, and your appetite will increase.
1. Why Do Carbohydrates Make You Hungry?
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, cookies and pretzels, may taste good, but they tend to make you feel hungry shortly after you eat them. They also provide few nutrients, so it’s smart to limit these foods in your diet. (Source)
Carbohydrates can increase your cravings and hunger –specifically high-glycemic carbohydrates. These carbohydrates contribute to overeating and eventually, weight gain. This includes simple sugars, like candy and sweets, along with fried food, and other junk and processed foods.
2. Dehydration- Why Body Mistakes Hunger for Thirst?
Our bodies often send a signal that it is dehydrated by disguising it in the cloak of hunger. Our body is comprised of 60 percent of water and needs it for basic survival. Water plays a vital role in
- Ridding the body of wastes via perspiration, urination and bowel movements
- Regulates our body temperature, helping to keep it within a reasonable range
- Acts as a lubricant for our joints
- Protects sensitive tissues
3. Why Stress Causes People to Overeat?
Sometimes, a stress-filled day can leave you desperate for a juicy cheeseburger and box of French fries. Comfort food has a way of making us all feel a little better –at least for a little while. What triggers such a surge in emotional demand for these comfort foods? Stress is a nasty animal that affects our body in many ways. (Source)
One side effect is that it triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that amp up in production during our most difficult moments. With the increase of these hormones, our body starts to feel like it has to ramp up to keep our energy functioning at its peak which enhances those feelings of hunger.
Next, the chemical in our brain known as serotonin also experience a drop in levels making us feel hungry when in reality, we are not hungry.
4. Can Depression Cause Food Cravings?
Depression is known to suppress our appetites, but it may also cause us to eat more due to feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Experts call this emotional eating as a result of emotional hunger.
One theory about carb cravings is that people may be eating them in order to trigger the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. In other words, eating sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods may be a way of self-medicating depression (Source)
5. How to Optimize Your Sleep to Eliminate Sugar Cravings
Evidence has suggested for some time that sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, among a host of other ills.
Now researchers are digging into the mechanisms that cause our sleep-deprived brains to crave food they do not need. A study published in the journal SLEEP suggested that the brain receptors that can lead the sleep-deprived to crave unnecessary food were the same as those activated by marijuana.(Source)
Your sleep habits might be making you hungry. Poor sleep practices can have a direct impact on two hormones that are responsible for your appetite and cravings. (Source)
6. What Role Does Leptin Play in Hunger?
The leptin hormone lives in our fat cells. It regulates our energy balance and helps to suppress our appetite and the amount of food we choose to eat.
- High levels of this hormone in the body tell the brain that we have plenty of fat in storage and allow it burn energy.
- Low levels of leptin inform the mind that we are in starvation mode and that we need to hold onto the fat.
Studies show that overweight men and women typically have low levels of leptin. In fact, they are said to be leptin-resistant. (Source)
7. What Effect Does the Hormone Ghrelin Have on Appetite?
Ghrelin also commonly referred to as the “hunger hormone” is responsible for boosting our appetite. This hormone resides in our stomach and sends hunger signals to the brain. There is some research that suggests that ghrelin may also be responsible for alcohol cravings. When we don’t get enough sleep, it throws our body into a flux. (Source)
The hormone ghrelin kicks into overdrive, making us crave food as leptin decline, depriving us of that much-needed feeling of fullness.
Sleep deprivation plays a significant role in the misfire of these two hormones. You should aim for a minimum of eight to ten hours of sleep each night to keep these hormones from getting out of control.
8. Do Diet Drinks Make You Crave Sweets?
Are you a die-hard fan of diet sodas? Diet drinks don’t have any calories, but a new study found drinking sugar-free soda leaves your body wanting something sweet. If you think you are sparing your body from drinking too many calories, the real risk is that you may be turning the hunger hormones on and triggering demand for food. (Source)
Diet sodas stimulate sugar cravings and can contribute to dreaded weight gain. Our brains are wired to expect a rush of calories after tasting something sweet, but artificial sweeteners don’t deliver, which leaves us craving sugary foods. (Source)
9. What Happens to Your Body When You Skip a Meal?
While you may protest that you are not hungry at the moment and feel just fine skipping one or two meals, your actions can work against you. Skipping meals contributes to an increase in ghrelin which drives us to want more food when we do eat.
“First, your blood sugar decreases, which causes an interruption in your ability to think straight,” says Robinson. “The brain uses glucose to run efficiently and if there is not enough glucose for the brain to use, your body does not function at 100 percent.” (Source)
11. Are Your Medications Making You Gain Weight?
WebMD says that some medications can change our appetites including steroids, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics and some diabetic medications. (Source)
“As many as 10% to 15% of weight issues are related to medications,” says Louis Aronne, MD, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medical College. Some meds can make you feel hungrier. Others slow your body’s ability to burn calories or cause you to hold onto extra fluids.
12. Why Does Dining with Friends Affect Your Appetite?
Ever caught yourself eating just because others around you were enjoying the flavor of a good meal? Social eating occurs when we consume calories in a social setting despite planning not to participate in a meal. Add alcohol to the mix, and we lose our inhibits and self-control where food is available.
“People ate more in groups than when they were by themselves. Experiments by other scientists also found that people ate 40% more ice-cream and 10% more macaroni and beef in company than when alone. De Castro named the phenomenon ‘social facilitation’ and described it as the “single most important and all-pervasive influence on eating yet identified”. (Source)
13. Health Conditions Associated with Food Cravings
There are 79 conditions associated with fatigue and food cravings. The links below will provide you with more detailed information on these medical conditions from the WebMD Symptom Checker and help provide a better understanding of causes and treatment of these related conditions. (Symptom checker)
14. Over-The-Counter Supplements May Cause Food Cravings
Some dietary and herbal supplements may be the cause of your hunger pangs. Although most vitamins do not change your appetite, some vitamins may lead to this unwanted side effect. Vitamin C is shown to improve symptoms of nausea and loss of appetite in some people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
What Can Cause You to Lose Your Appetite?
Conditions such as cancer, migraines, fibromyalgia and other sources of fatigue and pain can steal our appetites, leaving us deprived of calories and adequate nutrients.
Medications may cause us to feel tired as well, further contributing to our loss of appetite. Also, there are mental disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, and depression that affect your appetite.
In some instances, you may need to seek medical attention for a thorough examination with a trained physician to determine the cause.
35 Healthy Ways To to Reduce Hunger and Appetite
We know what jump-starts our appetite, but there are multiple ways to suppress your appetite. Some of these efforts may require us to play a few mind games, and others suggest some foods may be the key to appetite suppression. Here are a few natural ways to suppress your appetite.
1. Get Rid of Stressors
Identify the stressors in your life and establish an action plan to take control or get rid of them. Once you take action, you should find a drastic improvement in managing your appetite.
2. Control Hunger Hormones
Remember those hormones ghrelin and leptin? One school of thought is that the way to control these pesky hunger hormones is by avoiding high-fat foods. Usually, when we eat, out body gets the signal that we are full. High-fat foods, however, seem to work differently. It seems our body does not respond in the same manner when we eat fatty meals.
Our body demands additional calories and elects to hold fast to fat. To control these hormones, you should choose a diet that is rich in whole grains or high in protein. This approach helps to suppress ghrelin.
3. Ditch Sugar
No other food causes out of control cravings and rollercoasters in appetite like sugar.
Table sugar and all foods made from it should be limited or erased from your diet completely, this includes sweets, such as cake, candy, juices, soda and even eating too much fruit.
4. Eat Protein
Protein is another great asset in your diet that can generate feelings of fullness. Start with breakfast. Having protein with your first meal of the day will enable you to start your day the right way!
One weight loss study demonstrated that those who ate a breakfast that consisted of eggs lost 65 percent more weight than those who ate bagels.(Source)
Enjoy foods like salmon, legumes, lean chicken, and turkey. Soybeans are particularly beneficial in suppressing appetites than other plant-based foods.
5. Slow Down And Chew Your Food
Do you find yourself inhaling your food at every sitting? Are you hungry an hour later? Studies show that the simple act of slowing down to chew and digest your food can help to regulate the ghrelin, our food craving hormone while boosting the hormone cholecystokinin.
Your goal should be to spend 30 seconds chewing each bite of your food to trigger this response in your body. (Source)
Health.com says that if your stomach is still doing flip flows, commanding a taste of more food at the end of a meal, recommends waiting for a minimum of twenty minutes before daring to indulge another helping of food.
6. Make A Move From Starchy Carbs & Which carbs are good
Make an effort to move away from starchy carbs such as white rice, pasta, and bagels and choose multi-grain bread and bagels. You want to choose brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grain foods.
7. Drink Water
To avoid hunger symptoms that can accompany dehydration, we have to make a habit each day of consuming adequate levels of water to keep the body functioning at optimal levels. Drink water at the first signs of hunger. Wait for 20 minutes.
Your goal here is to differentiate hunger from the need to reach for a bite to eat. If you are still hungry after 15 to 20 minutes, the chances are that you may truly need a snack or meal.
8. How Much Water Should I Drink Each Day
The Mayo Clinic suggests we should aim to consume 11.5 cups or 2.7 liters of water per day to replace our fluid losses in addition to drinking water whenever we feel thirsty. Be mindful of your consumption of alcohol. (Source)
9. Add Cayenne Pepper
Spices like black pepper, turmeric, dandelion, cinnamon, curry, and cayenne pepper reportedly rev up the metabolism and are also useful as an appetite suppressant. An added benefit of spices like cayenne is that with high-carb meals, this spice increases fat burning activity in the body. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your next meal and enjoy the results.
10. Brush Your Teeth
Get your toothbrush and toothpaste out for the next tip! Brushing your teeth is a fantastic way to trick your brain into not wanting food. Who craves food after the taste of toothpaste? Brushing your teeth is yet another method to decipher between the feelings of genuine hunger and a little craving.
It’s also a great way to play tricks on your mind since we typically reserve brushing our teeth for those hours of the day when we do not usually consume food.
11. Do Not Skip Meals
Do not skip meals. Even if it’s a small meal, take advantage of a little morning snack and avoid allowing more than four or five hours to escape from eating something healthy.
This action will help to keep your hunger hormones and cravings throughout the day under control.
Get your endorphins flowing with a bit of physical training and fresh air. Exercise may reduce hunger hormone levels and create a temporary feeling of fullness. Exercise reduces stimulation to some areas of the brain that are known to generate hunger.
Studies demonstrate that exercise not only helps to reduce hunger levels but can support your attempts to decrease portion size. Aim for daily activity but do not overdo it or it can leave you feeling hungry and weighed down by fatigue.
13. Get A Mantra
Sometimes, a mental chant is all we need to deter our minds and mouth from the thought of food. Your mantra is there to support you in building a kind and loving relationship with yourself. You can take a stand for nurturing yourself with good food with kindness.
“I nourish my mind, body and heart with a kind and loving heart”“My relationship with my body is grounded in peace and kindness.”(Source)
14. Add Omega-3 Fats to Your Diet
Omega-3 Fats are particularly good for reducing hunger in overweight and obese individuals thanks to their ability to increase the hormone leptin, creating feelings of fullness after meals. They are available in fish.
15. Go To Bed
Sleep may feel like a luxury, but if you are ever to get your arms around your appetite, you have to get adequate sleep. Remember, sleep is what helps to keep leptin and ghrelin in check.
16. Add Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) improves digestion and helps to keep food in the stomach for an extended period, helping to control cravings and hunger for upwards of three hours. (Source)
Also, ACV controls blood sugar spikes that occur have meals.
17. Ginger Root
Ginger root reportedly can have a dual effect on your appetite. There are reports that those experiencing stomach ailments that slow hunger may see a reversal, leading them to crave food. There are other reports that ginger functions as a natural appetite suppressant.
This herb has a long history as a natural digestive aid and when consumed in the form of ginger tea can leave you feeling full and not as anxious for food.
A word of warning. Should you decide to drink ginger tea, chase it with a glass of water. Ginger can dehydrate you which we already know can contribute symptoms of hunger.
18. What Is the Disease Where You Are Always Hungry?
If your medications are leaving you wanting more food after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, let your doctor know. There may be another medication or treatment option (health.com). Antidepressants such as Zoloft and Paxil, as well as corticosteroids such as prednisone (prescribed to treat potentially dangerous flare-ups of the immune system due to allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, and some cancers), are known to affect appetite. (Source)
19. Turn Off Electronic Devices at Night
Your technology may be causing you to eat more.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine indicates that people who turn off these blue light emitting devices before and during their meal are less likely to experience hunger or insulin resistance. (Source)
“Insulin resistance is the diminished ability of cells to respond to insulin action transporting glucose out of the bloodstream and precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.”(Source)
20. Grab A Handful Of Nuts
Just a handful will do the trick for this food. Too much of a good thing can contribute to abdominal bloating, constipation or even diarrhea.
21. Dim The Lights or Light A Candle!
Dim the lights! According to Cornell University, eating under dim lights is not makes your meals more pleasant, but they may help you to eat 18 percent less food and increase chances of weight loss. (Source)
Okay –so not any candle. Vanilla scented candles can help you to feel full. Also, peppermint, banana and apple scents reportedly may help you to battle the munchies.
22. Blue Plates Anyone?
Stock up on blue plates and stay away from those orange, red, and yellow plates as these colors are shown to have the opposite effect on your cravings.
23. Trade in Those Big Plates
It may be time to downsize your plates so that you can teach your stomach to appreciate smaller servings. In time, this will help your stomach to feel full after smaller servings.
24. Drink Coffee
Ever notice how coffee leaves your belly feeling full. Caffeine has a reputation for being a fantastic way to not only suppress your appetite but may also help to boost your metabolism.
Beware of your coffee choices as they can introduce unwanted fat calories (Source: MayoClinic.org).
25. Chew Gum
Chewing gum is a great way to make your brain think you are full without taking in any calories. Most gum barely consists of more than ten calories and do well to hold back salty and sweet cravings.
26. Leverage Your Memory Of Your Meals
University of Birmingham scientists indicates that recalling your lunch from the same day can influence the amount of both sweet and salty snacks that you eat later on during the day. Those who commit to memory the foods consumed earlier in the day are likely to eat fewer treats.
27. Ditch The Sweeteners
28. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is excellent for curbing your appetite. Another significant effect is that it may also enhance your metabolism and curb snack cravings.
29. Eat Foods That Are Rich In Fiber
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber which keeps your belly satisfied for a more extended period. Add this item to your dinner plate, and you will notice a difference. These foods help you to control your blood sugar which also plays a critical role in helping you to also control those oh so distracting growls in your belly.
30. Don’t Ignore The Cravings
You do not always have to ignore the cravings. Give in with healthy choices that help to cure your sweet and salty hankerings. Raw veggies or even hummus are a great alternative.
31. Steer Clear of the Potluck Lunches at Work
Social eating can trigger us to eat even when we are not hungry. If you want to keep your appetite under control, steer clear of those lunchtime gatherings that tempt you most.
32. Dark Chocolate
33. Choose Solids Instead Of Liquids
Healthline.com suggests that solids may affect the appetite differently than solids. Studies show that those who eat solid snacks rather than liquids are far more likely to report feeling full and consuming less at their next meal than those who drink liquids as their main meal. (Source)
34. Magnesium For Hunger
Magnesium is an excellent supplement for combating chocolate cravings. It can also help you to squash feelings of stress. Magnesium relaxes your muscles, improves your sleep experience and helps to reduce fasting glucose and insulin.
35. Find Distraction
Sometimes, merely creating a distraction can help you to get your mind off of food. Consider reading a book, cleaning out a closet, take a walk, or doing laundry to distract yourself from wanting to eat.
How to Develop & Practice Mindful Eating?
Today’s world moves at 100 mph. We are often multi-tasking, doing more than one thing at a time whether we are at work or home. We complete tasks without thinking to the point that they are just about mindless.
Mindless eating, as some refer to this practice, can become a problem over time –particularly since our brain does not recognize it is full for nearly twenty minutes after we finish eating.
We eat and eat past the point of satisfaction. We see this with binge eating quite often where we gorge on food past the point of return. With mindful eating, we can dedicate our full attention to our meal and slow down to intentionally consume our food at a leisurely pace.
Mindful eating (ME) has its origins in Buddhist teachings. Just some people practice sitting in silence and participating in meditation, ME encourages students to meditate with their food. ME requires us to be present and aware at the moment as we are eating. During meals, where distraction might take hold, mindful eating helps us to shift our energy to the meal before us rather than engage in other things.
Mindful eating proposes that we pay close attention to what our bodies are telling us and what it is we are putting into our mouths. It suggests that we make every effort to indulge in healthy food choices that we do not purchase from restaurants but instead must purchase, prepare and serve ourselves for best results.
Adopting mindful eating practices means having to approach meals differently. During ME, you expand your consciousness by focusing on the sensation and purpose of each grain of food. It is not to be confused with dieting. ME is not a diet. Rather, it is all about you experiencing meals in a different light and challenging us to rethink how we encounter food.
9 Tips To Build The Mindful Eating Habit
1. The Mindful Eating Grocery List
The items you now toss into the cart will require you to choose foods that revolve around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils.
2. Eating When Hungry vs. Starving
Mindful eating means eating when you are hungry and not skipping meals. You are not giving up any food, but you are examining your eating habits and whether or not the food you are eating is satisfying.
3. Recognizing Emotional Eating and Real Hunger Signs
When we are in tune with our minds and bodies, we also know when stress, frustration, loneliness or boredom are driving our dietary habits. Mindful eating suggests we pay close attention to hunger signals and take the time to differentiate them from emotional hunger triggers.
4. Consider How Food Makes You Feel
As you are eating, use this time to reflect on how this food makes you feel.
Imagine having just consumed an entire bowl of carbs. How does it make you feel? Do you feel good about what you just ate? Do you feel bad? Will you eat another bowl of this food in the future? Maybe you will think about changing your portion size.
5. Stopping When Full
Your body will let you know when you are full. With mindful eating, you should take note and recognize all of the signs that it’s time to halt versus eating past your stomach’s real capacity. Your pace is purposeful, and you are in sync with your body, stopping when your body says it is full. Ideally, you are chewing each bite twenty to thirty times, setting your utensil down, then picking it up when its time for another bite.
6. Get Rid Of The Distractions
Seize every opportunity you can for quiet time and reflection. Silence is a wonderful way to concentrate on the food you are consuming and incorporating mindful eating practices. Of course, if the ability to enjoy a quiet meal is not realistic, look for other ways like snack time to enjoy the peace.
7. Savor The Taste
Close your eyes and taste every herb, spice, and splash of lemon. Savor the textures and flavors in your mouth and reflect your meal. You can talk with others briefly about your meal or silently reflect on each ingredient in peace.
8. Sit At The Dinner Table
Get off the couch and sit down at the dinner table where you can focus on the meal at hand.
9. Start With One Meal
The good news is that you do not have to dive in head-first to completely changing every meal into a mindful eating event. You can choose a single meal to practice mindful eating habits to start, then slowly, increase the practice of ME over a several weeks and months.
Finding the perfect formula to curb your appetite may seem overwhelming, but it is completely manageable. There several natural ways to curb your appetite whether choosing to pursue mindful eating or electing to increase the number of healthy foods in your diet. You can naturally take control of your hunger, reducing the urge to binge on unhealthy foods and potentially promote weight loss.
About Prescription Appetite Suppressants
Appetite suppressants come in a variety of forms including drinks, pills, supplements and whole foods. They trick our minds and keep us from overeating. These appetite suppressants often help to manage the neurochemical transmitters of our central nervous system and slowly enables us to decrease the amount of food we are eating.
This action not only affects our appetite but our mood as well. Not every appetite suppressant yields the same results and not every appetite suppressant (if any) can help with managing emotional eating habits.
There are a few FDA-approved weight loss medications that suppress the appetite and support weight loss. (Source)
- Osymia (Phentermine and topiramate) reduces our appetite and desire for food. This medication is prescribed by physicians for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 or for those who have a BMI of 27 or higher.
- Saxenda is an injectable medication that helps those looking to lose weight feel fuller sooner.
- Belviq helps to control the appetite by activating serotonin receptors that regulate hunger.
- Contrave is another popular weight loss medication that helps to boost the number of calories burned while also helping to reduce your overall appetite and cravings.
Natural appetite suppressants are preferable to the likes of pills or even liquids because they do not contain artificial additives, preservatives, chemicals, or substances that might cause dangerous symptoms like chest pain, palpitations, light-headedness or dizziness. Some suppressants reportedly cause jitteriness, headaches, diarrhea, and insomnia. (Source)
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