1. Consider why you eat
Much of the time, we eat without thinking. It becomes second nature, like checking our cellphone upon waking up or understanding advertisement cues on television. Sometimes we just eat.
We’re bored; we’re tired; we’re nervous; we saw an ad somewhere–or it’s just nearing the time of day that we usually eat. Regardless what caused it, try to be conscientious of when and why you’re eating: even if it’s just a snack. You might be able to relate your hunger cues to other factors, like a dog trained to salivate at the ring of a bell.
2. Return to the basics
We get so accustomed to hearing the “top, new Hollywood appetite suppressing” tips that we forget there are basic rules to follow, ones we learned when we were young. Consider the food pyramid, the geometric guidelines for the healthy amount of food groups.
It’s always easy to take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I eating too much dairy? What about too many grains? Do I need more vegetables?” Yes, yes you do.
3. Drink water and more water
When it comes to taking control of your appetite, you always want to be sure you’re getting enough water. While coffee, tea, milk, and even watermelon are sources of water, you likely won’t get enough in your system by those alone.
Drinking water before or at the onset of a craving allows you to determine whether you really are hungry or you were just thirsty. You were probably just thirsty.
4. Don’t skip breakfast
Having a healthy, considerable but not oversized breakfasts kicks your metabolism into gear early in the morning. Research has shown that missing breakfast causes “metabolic and hormonal differences in response to food” that was consumed later in the day, which means your body may compensate for a lack and you may eat more. Uh oh.
Also, if trying to choose a light breakfast meal, make sure you choose protein. The protein versus other food groups like cereals, oats, and simple carbohydrates will make you feel full immediately, but the effect will taper off soon and you’ll have a hunger ravenous for two buffets by lunch.
5. Look at the label
Do you ever have a mouthful of some yummy food, look down, and realize that you just ate your day’s worth in calories? Same. Don’t let yourself unknowingly deplete your caloric quota for the day: look at what you’re consuming. Is that snack you want to eat going to be a sizable crater on your daily values? Choose an alternative.
Look at the amount of calories in an item, then scan the rest of the label. If the snack is anything over 100-200 calories, you should probably ditch it (unless you’re very active).
Take our weight loss fitness stick, for example. It only has 15 calories, and there’s only one serving: there are no calories hiding from you. But when looking at food labels, always check the amount of servings. You may be enjoying that 90 calorie snack, only until you realize that the package you ate was actually 3 servings worth (270). Ouch.
6. Get up (not the movie)
Okay, don’t cry. Hold on. The movie was adorably sad–yes. But do you know what the old man did? He got up! Even at his old age, he adventured and tossed the idea of an aged, sedentary lifestyle in the trash.
This part–the correlation between appetite and physical activity–is complex. In fact, many scientists disagree about the conclusion. Some say your body’s appetite hormones, ghrelin, the appetite increaser, and leptin, the appetite suppressor, are stimulated by exercises; others dismiss the idea.
Bottom line: exercise is healthy for you whether or not it suppresses your appetite, but doing jumping jacks, push-ups, or walking around the house or office now in then will definitely stimulate your mind and deter you from mindlessly snacking.
7. But don’t get down
This emotive tip for controlling your appetite is actually quite an important one: Don’t beat yourself up if you overeat while sticking to your dietary regime. I mean, if you downed an entire row of Oreos, you might want to repent a little.
You can’t climb to the top of the ladder if you get off it every time you descend a rung. You have to keep going up it, even if you slip and fall down 3 or 4 rungs. If you curbed your appetite successfully for a week, and totally messed up on the weekend, you have to keep going on Monday.
You can’t quit (even though, of all days, Monday is the easiest day to quit).
8. Watch for hunger cues
Our body is like a machine: it remembers our patterns, like the muscle memory a professional MLB player gathers that makes him an incredibly dexterous and explosive asset. Your body will remember–encode–certain behaviors that cue your appetite.
TICK. It’s time for you to eat… or is it? Is it “that time of the day that you eat,” which means you must be hungry? Maybe you aren’t really hungry; and maybe just everyone else ate early and you want to fit in.
What triggers your stomach to say, “Hey, I think I’m hungry”? Audit your body’s behavior and look for those moments that you get hungry out of the blue, and then see if any of them are false readings. Maybe you’re hungry, or maybe you just got home from work and opening the fridge is just part of your routine.
9. Eat early, not late
In an earlier blog we gave some hacks to avoid late-night snacking, and talked about how silly the myth is about eating late at night. Now we’re reinforcing it: instead of just shunning late-night snacking, control your appetite earlier in the day by eating your last meal well before bedtime.
When you don’t set a time frame for eating dinner, you remove parameters on meals and snacks. Instead of eating at a static time, you might push back dinner and snack in the mid-afternoon. You’ll end up eating late at night, sleepily snacking and rue it all in the morning.
Your body best operates in routines, and unless you are in control of your appetite, it will control you.
10. Brush your teeth
Have you brushed your teeth today? Don’t answer that unless it’s yes. Brushing your teeth is an excellent way to suppress your cravings immediately. Have you ever tried drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth? Worst mouth event ever.
We suggest you get in a habit of brushing your teeth immediately after dinner. This prevents you from snacking and from delving into the cupboards late at night when everyone else is asleep… unless you’re stubborn, and you’d rather snack and brush them again. We can’t help stubborns.
11. Drink strategically
“What does drinking have to do with controlling the appetite?”
This special liquid is a conniving joy-giver. It makes you feel good, content, bold, and usually not hungry–until your body reaches that point and says, “Okay, where’s the fridge?” There’s a reason you crave simple carbohydrates when you drink.
Alcohol, when consumed, depletes your glycogen stores (carbohydrates) to metabolize it, so it needs to refill the carbs. The more you drink, the more your body is robbed of stored energy, and the greater the need it will have to fill it.
You have a few options. You can either…
- Cut out alcohol completely (just kidding)
- Drink less
- Eat before you drink
When your glycogen starts to deplete from that wine, beer, or hard stuff, you will have built a barricade against the fickle behavior of your boozy appetite. Having eaten, you won’t have to deal with two appetites (natural appetite + boozy appetite = unmet dietary goals).
12. Shop like a minimalist
Minimalism is the “art or lifestyle of living only with things we need,” and when it comes to shopping for food, it’s a powerful lifestyle to embrace. If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store when you’re hungry, you know the game: your appetite chooses what to buy, not your brain.
It’s crucial you either eat before you shop, or only buy the bare necessities. While buying in bulk will usually get you the deals, if you buy a family size when you just want a bite, you’re giving your appetite a way in: “There’s extra in the house, so I can have a little more.”
13. Find your motivators
Sometimes it takes motivation to do just about anything: go to work, get off the couch, wake up… Choosing to eat healthy and not glut at every moment possible also needs motivation, which is why we recommend you find what or who motivates you to control your appetite.
Do you have a wedding or grand event coming up? Do you look up to a certain fitness instructor or someone who clearly has his/her appetite under control? Are you tired of the lazy, stuffing, lugubrious feeling after overeating? Whatever is your motivation, cling to it and set it before your eyes at all times.
14. Get accountability partners
Find someone who will walk with you side by side, to fight your appetite and overeating together. There’s nothing quite as powerful as having accountability for the things that you do (or don’t do); and when you’re trying to achieve fitness goals, you want find people who both praise you in victory and encourage you in defeat.
And when you learn how to control your appetite–once you’ve donned the medals and achieved your fitness goal, you can be someone else’s motivation. What a feeling that is when, not if, you get there…
15. Get confident, overly confident
There’s nothing more intimidating than someone who isn’t afraid to speak his/her mind or back down from a challenge. You might think those people have a certain “type of personality” or are just different from you. Maybe, but I think you’re scared.
Don’t be timid to be the best damn you possible: to be confident in the face of failure, to say yes when everyone is saying no, and to keep getting up when the easiest thing to do is lie there and let someone else tame the appetite.
You don’t have to be a slave to your appetite.
Do you have any tips that have helped you control your appetite?