10 Ways That You Can Control Your Appetite After Bariatric SurgeryApril 12, 2017
The biggest key to success in any undertaking is self-discipline. Whether your goal is to save $500 each month, learn a new language, or lose 50 pounds, self-control will see you through. However, constant hunger is distracting to even the most disciplined. Literally. Hunger can lead to decreased concentration, light-headedness, and irritability (hence the Snickers “You’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan).
We all want to keep that irritable monster at bay, but if you are like me, you may find that your hunger increases at varying times and days, and during different months. There are several hypotheses to explain this phenomenon, including an increase in social activities thanks to the holidays, having more tempting foods on hand, or perhaps that hunger is a biological trigger to prepare your body for the winter. Whether you are a social butterfly or a survivalist, here are 10 ways you can keep your appetite in check all year round.
10 Ways to Tame the Beast and Control Your Hunger
1. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes your brain confuses dehydration for hunger. Your body requires extra fluids during the winter to regulate body temperature in addition to maintaining your skin’s moisture and integrity. Aim for a minimum 64 ounces per day. Keep a water bottle with you and sip throughout the day to keep excess hunger at bay.
2. Resistance & Aerobic Exercise
Recent studies have shown that in some people, 60 minutes of resistance and aerobic exercise temporarily reduces production of the hunger hormone (Ghrelin), and increases levels of satiety hormones, including leptin and peptide YY (1). This effect appears to last from a few hours to two or more days, so regular exercise is key for reduced appetite long-term. Exercise also reduces cortisol levels associated with stress, so if you are an anxious eater, exercise may be especially beneficial for you.
Bonus: Exercise is known to lower blood sugar levels due to increased insulin production and sensitivity.
3. Eat 4-6 Small Meals Each Day
By consuming small portions at regular intervals throughout the day will help you prevent excessive hunger that could lead to a binge. Binging result in higher overall caloric consumption that causes stretching in the stomach, neither of which are beneficial to your weight loss journey.
4. Get Lean with Protein
Protein will keep your body feeling full and satisfied longer than carbohydrates and fats which make it a healthy way to curb your appetite. When coupled with exercise, protein also maintains your muscle stores, which boosts the efficiency of your metabolism.
5. Eat Your Vegetables
Vegetables have high-fiber content which allows you to feel full but with far fewer calories. Vegetables will also provide you many of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
6. Eat Your Calories, Don’t Drink Them
It is easy to consume more calories than intended when in beverage form. Fluids leave the body faster than solids, meaning you will feel hungry more often and consume more calories in a day. Plus, our body may not get as much satisfaction with fluid snacks as it would from chewing your food.
7. Use Smaller Dishes
If you have used the phrase “my eyes were bigger than my stomach”, then you know how powerful your senses are when eating. Many studies have been performed on plate sizes and intake and found that most individuals will consume 25-50% more food when serving themselves with a large plate or bowl rather than a small (2). Trick your eyes and stomach by using 9-10” plates instead of the standard 14” dinner plate, and small cereal bowls in place of soup bowls. You can learn more about how dish sizes impact your intake at http://www.smallplatemovement.org/.
8. Get More Sleep
Studies have shown that the satiety hormone (leptin) and the hunger hormone (ghrelin) are both linked to sleep duration. Participants who experienced 4 or fewer hours of sleep each night had decreased leptin, increased ghrelin, and a larger appetite, especially for high-carbohydrate foods. Reduced sleep duration may also negatively impact glucose tolerance and risk for type 2 diabetes due to decreased cerebral glucose utilization and abnormal release of cortisol (3). Pamper yourself and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
9. Eliminate Boredom
It is easy to confuse boredom with hunger. Your mouth may just want something to keep it busy rather than satisfying hunger. Take a moment and think about why you want to eat. If you realize the desire is out of boredom, try another activity to take your mind away from food. Family games, taking a walk, playing an instrument, or chatting with a friend are just a few ways to keep your mind and mouth busy.
10. Be Mindful of Your Hunger Cues
Think about how your body reacts when it is hungry (stomach pains, growling, mouth watering, etc.). Eat slowly. It takes your body approximately 20 minutes to signal your brain that you are full. Use this time to chew thoroughly, savor the flavor of your meal, and enjoy the company of those around you (you are great company too!). You should stop when you are approximately 80% full: no longer hungry, but not “stuffed”.
Hunger is natural, but it does not have to control your whole life! Put these tips to the test and see what works for you. You may even come up with your own methods for taming the beast.
- Broom D, Batterham R, King J, Stensel D. Influence of resistance and aerobic exercise on hunger, circulating levels of acylated ghrelin, and peptide YY in healthy males. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009;296(1):R-29-R-35.
- Wansink B, Ittersum Kv, Painter J. Ice cream illusions: bowls, spoons, and self-served portion sizes. Am J Prev Med. 2006.
- Cauter EV, Knutson K, Leproult R, Spiegal K. The impact of sleep deprivation on hormones and metabolism. Medscape. 2005;7(1).
ABOUT THE AUTHORCassie Tilley is a Dietetic Intern from Texas Woman’s University exploring all the roles Registered Dietitians may take on. Cassie earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and is currently completing her Master’s in Nutrition. Cassie is currently an Intern at Bariatric Dietitian Services. She enjoys empowering others to make positive changes in their lives and those around them. Her dream jobs include, but are not limited to, being a nutrition consultant for Food Network, an animal nutritionist for Disney, and one day becoming a professor of nutrition.