“Feeeeed me! Feeeeed me!” Have you ever felt like the insatiable houseplant from Little Shop of Horrors? And, no matter how much you eat or overeat, does it seem like the ravenous beast inside keeps crying out for more and more?
Too often people turn to unproven, often harmful appetite suppressant drugs as a way to control the monster within, but there are healthier and better ways to go. Are you aware that many common everyday foods, combined with simple lifestyle changes, can help curb your appetite and delay the return of hunger without any harmful side effects?
Here are some of the healthiest, easily available ways to help check your inner voracious beast.
WATER By far, drinking water is the easiest way to tame your excess craving for food. And there’s science to back up the claim. One study, for example, showed people who drank a couple of glasses of water before meals ate as much as 75 to 90 calories less than those who didn’t drink water. Often what seems like hunger is simply thirst.
SKIM MILK Drinking skim milk is another way to hold back hunger, especially during that time of the month. Research has demonstrated women who consume at least one daily serving of dairy for the two weeks before menstruation greatly reduce their longings for processed carbohydrates and other unhealthy junk food.
OMEGA-3 RICH FISH Eating high omega-3 fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, etc.) increases the release of the hormone leptin in your body. Leptin has been shown to help suppress hunger. Other fish oil research has shown those who consume the most omega-3 fish oil burn more fat, weigh less and have less obesity than those who get the least amount of omega-3 when dieting.
EGGS Another good protein source that works as an appetite suppressor is the humble egg. Studies show eating an egg or two for breakfast helps those on a weight loss program to feel fuller over the course of a day and consume about 330 fewer calories than those who eat a bagel with the same number of calories for breakfast.
GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES Low in calories, but high in nutrition, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, etc.) are great foods to help you feel full for up to four hours. Whether you eat them raw or sautéed with a bit of olive oil, high fiber vegetables are a tasty way to keep hunger at bay.
SOUP AND SALAD A bowl of hot broth-based vegetable soup or a small raw veggie salad can help take off the edge of hunger pretty quickly with a minimum of calories. Just don’t add a bunch of croutons to your soup or drown your salad in a high-fat dressing. It will only defeat the purpose of sending a minimum signal to your brain that you’re starting to feel fuller and you don’t have to eat a whole lot more.
WHOLE GRAINS A twelve year Harvard research study showed women who ate the most whole grain foods lost more weight and kept it off more effectively than those who ate the least. The scientists concluded they had a 49% lower risk of gaining weight. They also had a much lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
SWEET POTATOES According to research, sweet potatoes contain a specific starch that resists digestion, allowing them to remain in the stomach longer and making you feel fuller longer. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A.
AVOCADO When eaten in moderation, high fiber avocados actually suppress the appetite. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat in avocados send a message to your brain that your stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating.
APPLES Tasty apples suppress the appetite in several different ways. One, apples are high in soluble fiber and pectin, both of which help you experience fullness. Two, apples are known to help regulate blood glucose levels and boost energy. And three, it takes a lot of time to chew an apple, giving your body more time to realize you’re feeling full.
ALMONDS Nuts are a great snack food. It only takes eating a handful of almonds or other tree nuts for your body to feel full. Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin E and antioxidants. Just make sure the nuts are not covered in salt or tamari. Once tasted, salt will only make you crave more salt and end up eating more nuts than you need to curb your hunger. That’s why salted chips are a trap for dieters.
SPICES Hot spices, such as cayenne pepper, tabasco and hot sauce boost metabolism, causing the body to burn extra calories. Other spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves, support lower blood sugar levels, which help control appetite. Ginger root has been used for centuries in many different cultures as an aid to digestion and as an energy stimulant that decreases feelings of hunger.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES Making simple lifestyle changes can go a long way to boost your metabolism and keep the hungry beast within under control.
The best place to start your day right is at breakfast. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to eat a lot more between meals, including more fattening sweets and sodas. Breakfast skippers have also been found to be nearly five times as likely to have excess weight problems. Eating five or six smaller meals a day rather than three big ones is another strategy that works to boost metabolism, stabilize blood sugar levels and help keep you from overeating.
It’s also a good idea to slow down and make it a practice to take a breath between each bite. Gobbling food down on-the-go is a big mistake. Slow eaters have been found to consume 25% fewer calories and still experience feeling full, despite the fact they’re eating a lot less. Cutting food into smaller pieces rather than eating it in chunks has also been found to reduce the number of calories consumed in a meal. Eating smaller bites also forces you to slow down and pay more attention to what and how you’re eating.
And, finally, being physically active and building more muscle should be part of your metabolism boosting project. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. And thirty minutes of exercise keeps your metabolic rate up for the next 24 hours.
So if you want to keep your appetite monster in check and burn more calories more effectively, even when you’re sitting around doing nothing or sleeping at night in your bed, put as many of the above ideas into practice as soon as you can. They will make it easier for you to lose weight and keep it off healthfully.