Cravings can be tricky. Do you really want that bacon cheeseburger you’ve been thinking of for three days, or are you simply in need of protein, or iron? Maybe it is simply a bad habit, this yearning for a juicy, calorie bomb. What if you want a bowl of chocolate ice cream? Or, a chalupa? You only have so much strength.
Your appetite, which is a product of habitual eating patterns, hormonal fluctuations (male and female), environmental factors and your body’s need for certain nutrients, sends a variety of signals. Use these tips to control the lasagna-craving monster within.
1. Protein is the breakfast of champions.
A St. Louis University study’s participants ate an average of 267 fewer calories per day, after beginning their day with a breakfast of two scrambled eggs and two slices of toast. Researchers determined the 15 grams of protein in this breakfast was more effective in controlling appetite than lower protein meals the participants ate other mornings.
2. Sleep on it.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are likely to eat more throughout the day. This is because your body does not produce as much of the appetite-reducing hormone, leptin, which tells you when you are full. To make matters worse, your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol increase, which causes your body to hold onto more fat. This is not to mention the fact fatigue drives you to indulge in a creamy, sugary coffee drink as a pick-me-up.
3. Don’t pile on.
The more you have on the plate in front of you, the more you will eat. Not just because mom made you clean your plate, but it takes about 20 minutes for your body to signal your brain that it is full. So, put less on your plate and eat slowly.
4. Don’t give yourself a choice.
Want to know why M&Ms come in so many delicious colors? You eat more when you have more variety. Some of the most successful dieters eat many of the same foods on a regular basis, thus reducing the chances of overindulging in new tastes.
5. Think about it.
Slow down when you eat and enjoy the taste and texture of every bite. Turn off the television and don’t read or drive while you are eating. Rushing through a meal distracted is a sure way to eat too much and still not feel satisfied.
6. Eat more.
Vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains are a great source of fiber, which is indigestible. In other words, the bulk fills you up without adding calories. Gradually build up to about 30 grams of fiber a day, so you avoid the negative consequences of too much fiber too soon.
You knew this was coming, right? Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce appetite in the hours after it is completed. Something as simple as a 30-minute walk in the evening can help you control your urge to snack in front of the tv.