How to control your appetite and lose weight

October 5, 2015

Is your weight at a plateau, or do you simply need to drop a few pounds. Weight loss starts with regulating your appetite. Here's how.

How to control your appetite and lose weight

Hunger is a biological drive to make sure you eat enough, while appetite is a complex mix of body chemistry, habit, social behaviour and psychology that's notoriously difficult to manage. But the task isn't impossible, especially as researchers and therapists devote more attention to understanding the power of appetite and how to subdue it.

Ask yourself why

  • For many, meals aren't the reason we gain weight — it's all the nibbling and snacking we do in between.
  • Experts point out that much of this kind of eating has nothing to do with hunger. Rather, it's boredom, stress or a learned habit independent of appetite (3:30 p.m. — time to get a snack at the vending machine!).
  • There's a simple antidote: Ask yourself why you are putting food in your mouth. If it's not because of hunger, stop.

Find alternatives

  • So if so much eating is about boredom, stress or habit, what to do when you are bored, stressed or in need of a ritual?
  • Easy: Take a walk. Put on music. Do a stretch routine. Go outside. Phone a friend. Read a favourite magazine.
  • Knit — whatever gives you pleasure and relaxation. If you can create a new routine to deal with everyday challenges that doesn't involve food, you will make major strides toward losing weight.

Turn on the lights

  • Wandering into the kitchen at night? Flip on the light. Research suggests that you feel in the spotlight when you're brightly illuminated.
  • The sense of being on display will make you less likely to go on an ice cream bender.

Go to the candle store

  • Next time you get a craving, light a scented candle: Studies suggest that certain aromas can take the edge off your appetite.
  • The smells that work best include green apple, peppermint and banana.

Pressure your appetite

You won't find this in the National Library of Medicine, but when you feel weak-willed against your appetite, try pinching the small area of cartilage where your jaws hinge just below the ears, which some acupuncturists claim is an appetite control point. Hold for about half a minute.

Eat power pleasers

  • To eat less at meals and snack time, choose foods with a high satiety index — meaning they're more satisfying than other foods.
  • Surprisingly, even though fatty foods fill you up and provide pleasure, they're not high scorers on the satiety scale because we tend to want more of them.
  • Among the most satisfying foods: Popcorn, jellybeans, potatoes, brown pasta, baked beans, grapes and oranges.
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