Gaining control over your hunger

Calming your appetite can be a real obstacle but nutritionist Patricia Fletcher says it’s not impossible. Below she offers some tips on how best to control hunger while maintaining a healthy diet.

1. Eat regularly

Just like breastfeeding where the mother’s breast will fill up with milk when the baby demands it, eventually your body will become programmed to know when it’s time for a meal. Do not skip meals, as this increases hunger which can lead to binge-eating behaviour.

2. Watch food content

Make sure to eat a lot of fibre as it gives you a sense of fullness. Protein can do the same, but make sure there is a balance between plant and animal protein. Fibre appears to work on hunger in many ways — by displacing available calories and nutrients from the diet; increasing chewing, which limits intake by promoting the secretion of saliva and gastric juices, resulting in stomach expansion; and increased satiety. It also reduces how fast food is absorbed in the small intestine.

3. Drink water

Many times thirst is mistaken for hunger and you end up eating instead of drinking more. If you drink more water you’ll manage hunger better. Sometimes the body may be crying out for fluids instead of food. So when the feeling of hunger comes it’s good to do an inventory check and ask yourself, ‘Have I had enough water for today?’ And make sure you’re properly hydrating the body.

4. Sleep

If you stay awake longer in the night, a hormonal shift takes place where an appetite- inducing hormone is released when you’re not eating. In the event that you’re up studying and need to sacrifice a few hours to meet your goals, watch the snacks you eat. Eat a lot of fibre and protein snacks rather than those filled with carbohydrates that will send up your blood sugar and make you want to sleep resulting in that intake of energy being stored as fat. Largely, resting more will eliminate the need to eat during late hours.

5. Exercise

If you’re going to expend energy through exercise and you’re hungry, chances are you won’t do it. Persons who exercise unconsciously tend to eat healthier. Remember to balance your food intake with your energy output.

Fletcher added that the type of foods we consume should range from complex carbs, to whole grains and ground provisions, and that we should regulate legume intake in all forms whether in soups or meals like stew peas. Additionally, she cautioned dieters to refrain from consuming a lot of refined foods.


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