When starting a new diet as part of a healthier lifestyle, it can at first feel like you’re constantly hungry. Most of us are used to eating more food than we really need. Part of our weight loss journey has to be adjusting to eating less, which can be plain uncomfortable. While on the learning curve of “shrinking” your stomach, there are a few tricks of trade you can use to curb your appetite. Here are our top 11 secrets to learning how to control your eating habits:
1. Eat in order of health. In other words, start your meal with your salad. Then move on to your lean protein before “treating” yourself with any grains, less complex carbs, fatty side dishes, or sugary treats.
2. Learn to listen to your body. You may have a hard time figuring out your body’s signals. Before you grab a snack without thinking, stop and process through your hunger level: Are you hungry? Starving? Full? Think about what other emotions might be causing you to think about eating: Are you bored? Anxious? Needing to feel comforted? Here’s the thing: eating isn’t bad! If you stop to listen and your body is truly hungry, you need to stop and eat. The trick is learning to recognize what’s triggering your desire to reach for food and only letting true hunger dictate when you eat rather than other motivations like boredom or stress or simply habit.
3. Refuel on a regular schedule. Stopping to eat at least every four hours (3 meals plus a few small, balanced snacks). The hunger pangs that send us scurrying for food – any food! – tend to hit about 5 hours after our last full meal. Beat it to the punch by planning your meals ahead of time and eating on a regular schedule.
4. Always eat breakfast. Eating a square breakfast with adequate portions of each macronutrient keeps you feeling fuller throughout the day. If you struggle to find time or inspiration for tasty breakfast dishes, don’t miss our free list of 2 weeks’ worth of healthy breakfast recipes!
5. Drink plenty of water. Unless we learn to differentiate between the two, thirst and hunger both feel like hunger much of the time. One way to tackle this and curb your appetite is by keeping yourself hydrated, and drinking a class of water when you think you’re hungry.
6. Eat the smart science way. Volume is part of what helps us feel full. Foods with more volume and a higher fluid content (most leafy green veggies fall into this category!) fill you up on fewer calories, guiltlessly helping you control your eating.
7. Get more sleep. Without adequate sleep, your body doesn’t produce enough leptin and ghrelin – the two hormones that help control your appetite by communicating whether you’re hungry or full. It’s sounds strange, but getting more shut-eye may be one of the best ways you can curb your appetite!
8. Eat more protein. I know, I know – we probably sound like a broken record! But protein is absolutely one of the most important keys to weight loss. In one study, two groups of women ate either 30% or 18% protein. After 12 weeks, the group that ate 30% felt more satisfied after eating and preserved their calorie-burning lean muscle mass. If you struggle to get adequate amounts of protein, an effortless way to get more is by adding a protein shake to your diet.
9. Choose fiber-rich foods. Like protein, fiber is a tremendous friend to dieters. Get at least 25 grams of fiber a day by eating fiber-rich foods. Vegetables are an awesome source of fiber, as is fruit. Whole grains will always give you more fiber than the more processed “white” versions of pasta, rice, or bread.
10. Don’t fear fat. Trying to avoid something altogether means you’re probably going to eventually break down and binge on it. Instead of getting to the point of overeating unhealthy fats, learn what food sources have the best healthy fats and enjoy them.
11. Stop avoiding carbohydrates. Aside from what mainstream media might tell you, carbs are not bad for you. In fact, our bodies need them to function properly. The trick with carbs is getting them from healthy, high-fiber sources. Fiber creates complex carbs that go straight through you and immediately turn to sugar. Vegetables and whole grains are great sources. Every body responds differently to weight loss, and not every trick works for everyone, every time. Out of these 11 tips, there’s bound to be at least a few that will help curb your appetite and control your eating. Which ones have worked for you? What other tips and tricks have kept your appetite at bay when the cravings hit? We’d love to know – share in the comments below!