How can I control my appetite?

Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life
Get moving. Activity, like eating, helps produce pleasure-inducing brain chemicals called endorphins. You can get the same mood-lifting effect from exercise as you would from eating. Some research suggests that exercise can increase the number of dopamine receptors you have, which can also help counter eating urges.

Avoid junk food. Foods packed with sugar or fat may disrupt the signals that help regulate your appetite. Loading up on fruit, veggies, whole grains and lean protein instead will help balance your body’s hunger-satiety network.

Fill up on fiber. Fiber, a carbohydrate that gives fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains their bulk, can’t be digested by the body, so it’s calorie-free. Foods that are high in fiber help you lose weight because they fill you up for relatively few calories.  Plus, certain types of fiber can slow down the conversion of starch to blood sugar, preventing spikes and dips in blood sugar, which, in turn can help quell appetite.  Fiber can also trap a little of the fat and cholesterol from a meal, ushering them out of the body before they can be absorbed. Women should aim for 25 grams per day; men 38 grams.

Get enough water. Like fiber, water adds bulk to foods without adding calories.  Studies suggest that water drinkers consume 200 fewer calories per day than those who skip sipping. Experts suggest that water-drinkers are healthier overall - they tend to have better eating habits and they consume less soda. Plus, many people tend to confuse hunger and thirst, so sipping a glass of H20 instead of grabbing a bite can help cut calories.
Eat regularly. Having three meals and a snack or two each day prevents drops in blood sugar, which can lead to you feeling overly hungry and making poor food decisions. Skimping on meals - or skipping them - does nothing to help your appetite.

Deal with emotional issues. If you address the emotional issues that can trigger eating (like stress or loneliness), you’ll likely find that you just don’t have the need to turn to food anymore.

Log enough sleep. Several studies have revealed a connection between sleep and obesity. Getting enough sleep can help prevent any disruption of the hormones that control appetite. Make sure you’re getting about seven to eight hours a night to stay fresh and healthy!
Make sure you are eating regular meals and snacks when needed. Start your day with a smart breakfast. Don’t skip meals. If you find that you feel “snacky” at a particular time each day, you might be hungry. Instead of just piecing, sit down to a planned snack that includes a high fiber source of carbohydrate (from whole grains or fruit) and a low-fat protein (such as cottage cheese or lean meat). Fiber and protein, in meals and snacks, help to keep you satisfied longer. 
Make sure you are making wise choices when you are hungry, but also make sure, when you reach for a snack, that you really are hungry. Look for other things that may be prompting you to eat (Are you thirsty? Bored? Anxious?), and search for solutions that target those other needs better.
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

This may sound counterproductive but the best way to control your appetite is to eat.  Yes.  Eating the right foods can help you control your appetite and therefore your weight throughout the day.  Skipping meals can lead to a ravenous attack on your next meal or unsuspecting buffet line.  

  • To avoid this, plan to have a meal or snack at least every 4 hours during the day.
  • Include fiber and protein rich foods throughout the day as these have been shown to truly satisfy hunger and help to control appetite.  Instead of potato chips, try almonds or pistachios which still have crunch appeal but offer both protein and fiber to help control appetite.
  • Think defensively.  If you will be attending a party, have a meal or snack beforehand so that you are not as tempted by the high calorie foods that will be there.  
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

Controlling appetite can be the hardest part of losing weight. Years ago, people lost a lot of weight taking phen-fen. It took away their appetite, and they lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately, it caused heart problems in some people. For me best way to control appetite is to get physical activity. Physical activity produces the "feel good" hormones, which seems to reduce appetite. It's a win-win. Appetite is reduced and you have more energy and strength.

Brooke Randolph
Marriage & Family Therapy
A really excellent way to control your eating is to be aware of what you are eating. Too often we eat while watching television or working, sometimes not even looking at what we are eating before putting it in our mouths. Being a busy, involved individual, I have had to work on breaking the habit of eating too quickly, while driving, and other mindless eating habits. Many find when they start keeping a diary of what they are eating that they are actually eating much more than they realized. Even if we know how much we are eating, it is hard to actually enjoy food that way.
Layne Lieberman, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
To control your appetite, staying hydrated with water or herbal tea, eating slowly, and using small plates and utensils are all helpful tools. In this video, culinary nutritionist Layne Lieberman, RD, gives her favorite tips for curbing appetite.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.