With a little understanding about why that’s happening and a few basic tips, you can live a healthier life from today, she says.
Essentially, our appetites are controlled by hunger hormones called leptin and ghrelin, says May.
Leptin, made by fat cells, decreases your appetite. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is made in the stomach and increases appetite.
Here are just a few ways to keep them in balance and take back the reins, says May.
- Drink more water
Since we rely on many foods to provide water, when you are dehydrated your body can send out hunger signals, thereby increasing your appetite.
These deceiving hunger pangs cause you to mistake thirst for hunger, so if you’re feeling hungry, try drinking a glass of water in the first instance and see if you are satisfied.
Ensure you remain hydrated by drinking in between meals.
- Stop carbo-loading
The notion of filling up on rice, pasta and bread has long been held as a strategy to ensure you are replete and you stay full after a meal.
However, refined carbohydrates like white rice, white pasta and white bread, as the name suggests, have been through a manufacturing process that has removed the outer husks of the grains, leaving just the inner sugar part.
Once these refined grains reach your stomach, there is very little left for the digestive process to do and the sugar is quickly released into the blood stream.
The hormone insulin removes these blood sugars and this sugar surge is quickly followed by a sharp dip in blood sugars, triggering a sugar craving and the hunger pangs.
- Eat more fat
Studies show that fat increases satiety by working on the brain pathways that reduce the reward associated with food.
As with protein, fats are also a complex nutrient, that requires longer to break down and therefore remains in your stomach for longer.
Avocado provides good levels of monounsaturated fats that satiate; add to a salad, slice alongside scrambled egg or simply mash on sourdough toast with a drizzle of olive oil, for a delicious breakfast that will keep you going and reduce your hunger pangs.
- Slow down when eating
Despite our busy lives, it is important to take the time to savour and enjoy your meal, says May.
Chewing your food more thoroughly gives your body time to register that you have eaten and are no longer hungry.
Certain foods such as almonds, avocado and oats promote the appetite-regulating intestinal hormone Cholecystokinin (CCK), released as part of the digestion process, which signals the brain that you are full.
- Eat more regularly
You’ve embarked on a new healthy eating regime and are limiting your food intake at each meal or even skipping meals all together.
Although you enthusiasm and willpower may get you through the first few days, it is unlikely that you will be able to sustain this and your hunger pangs will inevitably get the better of you.
If you’re looking to limit your calorie intake, but don’t want to spend the day hungry, why not start a meal with a vegetable or broth based soup or a salad starter.
- Boost the fibre
Fibre bulks and binds and is essential for a healthy digestive system, says May.
There are two types of fibre; Insoluble fibre, which adds bulk to your stool and ensures healthy elimination and soluble fibre, which dissolves into a gel-like consistency and contributes to how full we feel.
Vegetables provide plenty of fibre, ideally half your plate should be made up of vegetables.
The fibre and water content of vegetables help you to stay fuller for longer.
- Get more sleep
Studies show that the less sleep you have, the more you eat.
The lack of sleep interferes with the leptin and ghrelin response mechanism; increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin and reducing appetite-suppressing leptin.
In addition, you are likely to eat more to compensate for the fatigue and lethargy the following day.