14th October 2018
We recently looked at several reasons why you might always be hungry and why this makes meeting your health and fitness goals even more challenging. Now, depending on what you are aiming for fitness-wise, you may need to eat a lot (to bulk up, for example), but many people feel they need to cut down on how much they eat.
There are many reasons why this might be the case – typically it is to lose weight, feel healthier, or because the doctor said to. Whatever the reason, it can be incredibly difficult to eat less, especially if you have a constant appetite. There are things you can do though to curb your hunger and help you feel full sooner, or for longer. Things like the following:
Having eggs for breakfast is a bit of a double whammy, as eating (a healthy) breakfast kick starts your metabolism and makes you more likely to make healthy choices during the day, and they are also full of protein – which is great for filling you up. Similarly, starting the day with salmon or porridge achieves the same thing.
However you like your eggs in the morning, make sure you have a coffee alongside them. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system – which is why you feel energised afterwards – and also leads to a decreased appetite.
When you’re hungry, you’re likely to snack. If you are going to cave in and snack then at least make it an apple. Apples are full of fibre, which fills the stomach for longer and will ensure you don’t overeat at meal times. Almonds and flaxseeds are also good alternatives.
Picking the right restaurant
Going out for meals is where a lot of people fall apart and overindulge, but eating somewhere with soft lighting and mellow music can lead to a 20% decrease in calorie consumption. The theory goes that a relaxing environment leads to more enjoyment and savouring of a meal. The same goes for expensive food, as people are more likely to take their time and get full satisfaction from their meal.
The colour red
Try to eat from red plates and dishes while you’re at it, as studies show those who eat from crockery of this colour ate less than people who ate from blue or white plates. This could be due to the association we have between red and stopping/caution, which leads us to subconsciously quit eating sooner.
Cutting food into smaller pieces
Research has found that satiety is also boosted when you eat your food in smaller chunks. Something as simple as cutting your sandwiches into quarters – primary school-style – or slicing up an apple, can stop you eating too much. Likewise, eating slowly will leave you feeling more full than if you eat quickly.
Remember your lunch
Science has also discovered that when asked to recall details of their lunch, people ate less snacks that were available to them compared to people who were asked to recall details of their commute. The moral here is to think back to what you’ve already eaten that day (especially if it was healthy) to help you refrain from snacking when the urge takes you.
You might think that working out will just increase your hunger, but in actuality it can curb it. Aerobic exercise particularly can lower ghrelin levels (ghrelin tells the brain we need to eat), whilst simultaneously increasing appetite-suppressing hormones in your body and restoring the sensitivity of satiety neurons in the brain.
You’ve probably heard that drinking a glass of water before a meal can stop you overeating, which is true. It’s also true that we often mistakenly believe we are hungry when in fact we are just dehydrated and require a drink to quench our thirst. Drink a glass of water if you feel hungry and you will likely find that the hunger quickly subsides.
Chewing on a piece of gum tricks your brain into thinking it’s eating; the chewing motion stimulates nerves in your jaw that are connected to the brain regions associated with satiety. Chewing your food for longer before swallowing achieves a similar effect, and also means you’ll take longer to finish a meal and give your stomach chance to tell the brain it’s full.
Eating soup will fill your stomach somewhat but without a whole lot of calories. Choosing soup as your starter at a restaurant will satisfy you and you won’t need to sacrifice your diet either. Plus, hot liquids in general alleviate hunger, making soup a two in one hunger-basher.
Adding spices like wasabi or cayenne pepper to your food has repeatedly been shown to be an effective way to consume fewer calories. Notice that I said “adding spices”, not “eating curry every night”. That doesn’t tend to help so much.
Eat with your nose
Not literally. Don’t go stuffing crisps up your nostrils. But do take the time to smell your food first – especially if it contains peppermint or fresh mint. Better still, sniff these scents sporadically throughout the day to reduce hunger between meals. Fresh ginger, basil, rosemary, and cinnamon have all been shown to work too.
Bear in mind that these are strategies to curb your hunger in healthy ways; to cut out the urge to snack on junk food or to go overboard at meal times. This is not an excuse or endorsement to unnecessarily starve yourself as a way to lose weight; that can be just as damaging as eating unhealthily.
Have you tried any of these? What works best for you? Let us know!