Feeling hungry when trying to lose weight can make it tough to stick to a nutritional plan. But there are some things you can do to help suppress your appetite and control hunger when dieting. Here are 15 healthy tips to control hunger that I used to lose 90 pounds.
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When I set out to lose weight after my cancer diagnosis, I knew I would need to keep my body in a calorie-deficit for a long time. I had to burn more calories than I ate.
What that meant is that I could no longer eat anything I wanted. I had to control the type and amount of food that I put into my body. I knew there were going to be times that I had to battle hunger. And I hate feeling hungry.
So, I looked for healthy ways to control my eating. If I was going to be successful at losing weight, I needed to suppress my seemingly insatiable appetite. My endless hunger was why I was almost 100 pounds overweight. Something needed to change.
I discovered 15 healthy tips that helped me battle hunger. These tips to suppress appetite helped me lose 90 pounds. And I want to share them with you now.
1. Dark chocolate can suppress appetite
Eating a square or two of dark chocolate that contained at least 70% cocoa was my favorite way to suppress feelings of hunger. Both the bitterness and the fat in this type of chocolate can decrease cravings, slow digestion, and help increase fullness sensations.
If you don’t like the taste or don’t want the added calories, then just smelling dark chocolate can have similar effects on your appetite.
By far, my favorite is Lindt Dark Chocolate. Yum!
2. Mint can curb cravings
Brushing your teeth or chewing mint gum can help curb your appetite and prevent snacking. This trick certainly works for me.
Sipping mint tea or infusing spa water with mint leaves can be refreshing and also help you feel less hungry.
Simply smelling peppermint has also been shown to decrease appetite and cravings. The scent triggers your hypothalamus to release hormones that tell the rest of your brain you are full.
So, try diffusing some peppermint essential oils to see if it helps you control snacking.
3. Exercise controls hunger
Aerobic Exercise, like running, has been shown to increase hormones that suppress appetite. However, this seems to work for a short time only, up to 3 hours. After this time, depending on the intensity of the exercise, appetite can increased as the body wants to replenish nutrients lost.
Weight training exercises can also suppress appetite, although not to the same degree as cardio exercise.
The other thing exercise can do for you is to distract you from feeling like you need to eat. I would sometimes go for a walk when I felt like eating out of boredom.
4. Protein improves weight loss
Getting adequate amounts of protein can help with weight loss. Protein helps you maintain muscle mass which is important for burning calories.
When the proteins are digested the resulting amino acids trigger the hormones that make us feel full.
When it comes to the macronutrients in our diets, protein has the largest influence on successful short term weight loss. People eating higher protein diets (25% to 30% of energy) lose more weight than those on the traditional low-carbohydrate, low-calorie or low-fat diets.
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5. Sleep helps balance feelings of hunger
Do you eat more when you are tired? I certainly do. It is a struggle at night when I want to binge eat just before bedtime. I know that this is just because I am tired. But, it is a struggle, none-the-less.
The hormones that control our hunger, ghrelin and leptin, are influenced by how much sleep we get. A lack of sleep causes ghrelin to rise and leptin to drop leading to feelings of hunger that are unrelated to how much we ate throughout the day. For some, this can seem like an unsatiable appetite and lead to binging.
It seems that 7 hours of quality sleep per night is what is needed to balance these hormones properly. Less than 6 hours of sleep, and we raise our risk for obesity by 55%.
Sometimes I would just go to bed early instead of snacking at night.
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6. Meditation brings awareness of hunger cues
Meditation and mindfulness interventions are especially helpful for emotional eating and cravings.
Mindful eating is being aware of your internal hunger cues, focusing on body sensations and being present in the moment to enjoy your food. Meditation is one tool you can use to eat mindfully.
Listening to your body is a lost art, but it is an important aspect of mindful eating. If you feel yourself wanting to eat, spend a few minutes to tune into your body. Why do you want to eat? Are you truly hungry based on internal cues or are there external factors triggering your desire to eat? Eating in response to external factors, such as the sight or smell of food, usually leads to overeating.
7. Distraction helps stop unplanned snacking
If you are not truly hungry, then don’t eat. Yes, that was easy to say. But I know how hard that is to follow through with. Trust me, I have been there. Sometimes the cravings are intense.
When I wanted to eat for reasons other than hunger, I would try to distract myself. Doing something with my hands was helpful. I would sew, draw, or color. I would also go for walks or do some body weight exercises, as exercise also helps suppress the desire to eat.
Focusing on something else helped to distract me from eating. After about 10 to 20 minutes, the desire to eat or the craving would usually pass. If it didn’t, I would check in with myself to see if maybe I was truly hungry.
8. Coffee reduces hunger
Coffee triggers the release of a hormone called peptide YY. This hormone causes a sensation of being full. Decaffeinated coffee is better at reducing hunger than regular coffee is.
This appetite-suppressing effect can last up to 3 hours after drinking the coffee.
Drinking a cup of decaf coffee around 3:00 – 4:00pm was perfect to hold me until suppertime.
Just in case you are in the market for a great coffee maker… My husband bought me the Braun Multiserve Coffee Maker for my birthday. I absolutely love it!
9. Vegetables give a feeling of fullness
Vegetables are so healthy. They are packed full of nutrients, but low in calories. They are also bulky and take up room in your stomach. When your stomach stretches, it will make you feel full.
I would cut up vegetables ahead and portion them into reusable sandwich bags. When I just could not shake my desire to eat, I would grab a handful of these ready-to-go veggie bags. It was a no-guilt snack.
This trick stopped me from grabbing a bag of potato chips or cookies many times over.
10. Fiber triggers satiety
Vegetables also contain a lot of fiber. Food high in this macronutrient helps us feel full.
Fiber absorbs water and expands when in your stomach. This triggers the stomach to tell your brain that it is full. Fibre also slows down the digestion process and allows for more nutrients to cross over into your blood. This also tells the brain to turn off those feelings of hunger.
But it isn’t just any fiber that helps. It needs to be the type of fiber that forms a gel when it absorbs liquid. Oat fiber seems to be the best at doing this.
So, include some oats or oatmeal into your day.
11. Healthy fats help you lose weight
Eating healthy fats can help you lose weight. It’s true and backed by science.
It seems that eating omega-3 fatty acids can increase levels of the satiety-hormone, leptin, in those of us with excess body fat. If our leptin goes up, we don’t feel hungry. This trick doesn’t seem to work in people already at their ideal weight though.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, flaxseed, soybean and canola oils.
12. Small plates result in eating less
Research has shown that people rely on visual cues to determine how much to eat. We will eat about 45% more food when using large dinner sized plates. This occurs even when we are told not to fill our plates full and are warned of the dangers of overeating. So, that is a losing battle, don’t you think?
Instead, consistently eating off smaller lunch sized plates results in eating less but feeling satisfied. Our brains are tricked into thinking that this is enough food. And the reality is, it is enough. Adequate portion sizes at one meal will most definitely fit on this size of a plate.
13. Eat slower to lose more weight
Eating slowly may help to control hunger. The idea is that it takes time for the nutrients and hormones to recognize that you are full. You need to digest the food, absorb the nutrients, release hormones that act on the brain to make you feel full.
One study of 30 healthy women demonstrated higher satiety rates when they slowed down at mealtime. They also enjoyed their meals more, as they reported a higher pleasantness rating. And the women who ate slower ingested about 10% fewer calories during the meal.
14. Ginger suppresses hunger
Ginger may also help you feel full. A study found that dissolving ginger powder in hot water reduced feelings of hunger in the participants.
While this may work for some, it may not work for others as there appears to be a genetic component to the satiety effects. And it may raise levels of ghrelin, making you feel hungry, 45 minutes later.
Ginger does have other weight loss benefits, however. So, it may be worth adding it to your recipes or drinking ginger tea.
15. Peppers can help to control hunger
Capsaicin is the compound in hot peppers that makes them taste spicy and hot. Capsiate is a similar compound found in sweet peppers, but doesn’t have the same hot, burning sensation. Both chemicals have been shown to suppress appetite.
In addition, peppers, especially hot peppers, can raise metabolism by as much as 25%. Raising your metabolism means that you burn more calories, making it easier to be in a calorie-deficit and lose weight.
I hope you find these healthy tips to control hunger useful. For me, they meant the difference between successful weight loss and failure. I know how difficult it can be to stick with the plan. And I wish you every success in your efforts.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
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