Last time, I talked about a few different appetite hormones, how they influence our food choices and why we eat. Our appetite is an important tool for us to know what our bodies need. The key is actually LISTENING to the cues your body tells you and choosing to act on them.
Mindful Eating is Important
It’s not just the foods you eat, it’s HOW you eat that matters. I’ve talked about mindful eating in previous articles. Basically, mindful eating means eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Too bad it’s not as simple as it sounds!
In order to eat mindfully, you have to be paying attention to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness! I.e. not eating while you’re doing something else, like driving, working, messing around on your phone, or watching TV.
A great way to pay more attention is to keep a journal and rank your hunger levels at various points during the day. Use a scale of 1 to 10. A “1” is empty, “3” is hungry (as I say “I’m so hungry my stomach is eating itself”), “6” is satiated, and “10” is completely stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable (think of Thanksgiving!). Click here for more on the scale.
Our goals would be to recognize when hunger is at a “3”, and choose to eat until our fullness is about a “6” or “7”. For more on Mindful Eating, I recommend Intuitive Eating as a guide.
Your hormones can impact eating by affecting your hunger and fullness cues. Add emotions on top of that and it gets complicated!
Cravings are an intense desire to choose a particular food. It’s not a big deal if you have a craving for chocolate and you can satisfy that craving with a small piece. However, if you find that your cravings turn into consuming a lot of a particular food, then there’s more going on. And when you combine a craving with also being hungry, the result is that you essentially consume an entire meal or more worth of food from the craving.
To combat some of the challenges that you might be facing with appetite and cravings, here are 10 tips! These came from the Today’s Dietitian article that I mentioned before.
10 Tips to Manage Appetite and Cravings
- EAT ON A SCHEDULE. To avoid wide swings in appetite hormones, have breakfast within 1 hour of waking and eat every 4 hours. Follow the same general schedule each day.
- EAT A HIGH PROTEIN BREAKFAST. People who say they aren’t hungry at breakfast usually have night cravings or can’t stop eating in the evening. Your body will adjust when you start eating breakfast.
- EAT A VARIETY AT MEALS AND SNACKS. Protein, carbs and fat and micronutrients are all important for stimulating fullness hormones. Have 2 different food groups at snacks and 3 or more with meals. [Remember that the 5 food groups are fruits, vegetables, starch, protein and dairy/dairy alternative].
- EAT OMEGA-3 FATS. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and can increase the number of dopamine receptors and dopamine levels. The most active form of omega-3 comes in fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. Plant sources of omega-3 is less active and can be found in walnuts, flaxseed and soybeans.
- EAT HORMONE SUPPRESSING FOODS AT EACH MEAL. High quality animal proteins (skinless chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs, low fat greek yogurt) and unprocessed carbs that have resistant starch (lentils, oats, sweet potatoes, beans, etc.) are the best food sources to leave you satiated for longer.
- PLAN MEALS WITH LOW ENERGY DENSITY. More volume per calorie! Eating foods that take up space in your stomach, but don’t provide an overload of calories at one time will help nourish your body with the nutrients it needs. For more on this concept, check out the Volumetrics Diet.
- FIND PLEASURE IN OTHER ACTIVITIES. Listen to music, go for a walk, do yoga, meditate. This helps increase dopamine levels in a non-food way. Try coloring, the new hot trend for improving mood!
- GET ADEQUATE SLEEP. Ghrelin levels are higher when people get 2 hours less sleep than what their body needs. aim for at least 7 hours.
- COMMIT TO REGULAR EXERCISE. Physical activity burns calories, builds muscle, increases metabolism AND helps manage appetite hormones.
- UTILIZE YOUR THERAPIST. Changing behavior is hard work! Professional counselors can assist you in identifying and meeting goals for well-being.
Want a printable handout with these tips? It’s your lucky day! I made one just for you. 🙂
GET THE HANDOUT BY CLICKING HERE: Hormonesandappetite
PS- Don’t forget the webinar Thursday! Register here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EB59D98786463A