• Amy Lucas

Top Tips to Reduce Hunger Cravings and Lose Weight Naturally

There are many practical ways to satisfy your hunger and consume fewer calories while meeting your nutrient needs. The following techniques will guide you in using portion control to develop healthier eating habits that can lead to successful weight loss.

1. Avoid skipping meals

Consuming consistent meals throughout the day helps to keep your blood sugars under control, especially when choosing the right foods. When a meal is skipped, there is a tendency to overeat at your next meal and if your body doesn’t need the extra energy (food), it may be converted to fat. Plus, skipping a meal is a missed opportunity to meet your daily nutrient needs.

2. Don’t starve yourself to lose weight

Restricting food intake doesn’t keep the weight off and only contributes to disordered eating and fluctuations in weight patterns. In addition, restricting food intake can decrease your metabolism, meaning your body burns fewer calories. Keep in mind, your body will get the energy it needs by breaking down your body’s protein (muscles) to meet its needs if you’re not supplying it with sufficient energy, which means loss of muscle mass and a less toned body.

3. Do you need to consume 5-6 small mini meals?

This is an individual preference! Some people find it hard to consume that many meals due to their work schedule and/or lack of being able to plan healthy snacks. Planning three meals with sufficient calories, protein, fat, fiber and water within your predetermined calorie needs should satisfy you until the next meal and will help to keep you in tune with your hunger signals. If you’re filling up with the empty calorie snacks in-between meals just to get those 6 meals in, it can actually be more detrimental to your blood sugar levels than just eating your 3 well-balanced meals.

4. Choose high volume, lower calorie foods

Centering meals around big portions of low-calorie foods will help to reduce food intake at meals while filling up on tons of nutrients and fiber. This idea can also help to curb sugar and snack cravings. Here are some tips to help you eat healthier and consume fewer calories by reducing intake of higher calorie starches and meats.

Add a piece fruit (apple or orange) 20-30 minutes before a meal

Drink a glass of water before a meal or sip water between bites to encourage slower eating Consume half a plate of vegetables and 1/4 plate of starch and meat as a general guideline

5. Use smaller dishes

Using a smaller plate makes it difficult to pile on a lot of food and it visually tricks your mind into thinking you’re consuming more than you actually are; sometimes, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and once food is on our plates it’s hard to say no to it. Of course, you should practice listening to and honoring your hunger and satiety cues and using a smaller canvas to eat your meals off of can help you to do so; you’ll slow down your eating and allow your body to digest before you overeat.

6. Key nutrients to keep you full and satisfied

Ensuring that you have enough protein, a serving of healthy fat, fiber and water at meals will help to keep you full. These components of food (except water) are digested and absorbed much slower by the body than consuming white flour products which are digested and used up faster, leaving you in a cycle of “hunger”. In addition, soluble fiber forms a gel to expand your stomach, thereby, making you feel fuller. Soluble fiber foods include fruits (especially apples, oranges, grapes, pears), vegetables, beans, barley and oatmeal to name a few.

7. Eat slowly and chew your food well

When you take your time and slow down your eating by thoroughly chewing your food, it allows your brain enough time to get the message from your stomach whether it is full or not. This usually takes 15-20 minutes and can significantly decrease your food intake. In addition, there are enzymes in your saliva that starts the breakdown of your food so it is essential that you chew thoroughly in order to optimize your digestion.

8. Tips for snacks and treats

We all have favorite treats we enjoy, but by storing them out of reach (somewhere high and in the back where you can’t reach them without getting a chair or stepstool) will prevent you from grabbing them multiple times during the day. You can also stash your favorite chocolates in the back of your freezer and out of sight. Then, when you do have one, it will take you longer to savor because it’s frozen. You can apply this tip with other foods as well, like frozen grapes or a frozen flavored yogurt, etc. A good way to manage snacks is to pre-portion.

9. Exercise and nutrition

Moderate exercise releases a hormone that reduces your appetite; however, excessive exercise can also increase your appetite. One of the best times to exercise is in the morning when you are in the fat-burning mode. Eating a high carbohydrate food with a small amount of protein (like a shake made with almond milk and fruit) within a half hour after exercising provides optimum absorption to replenish carbohydrate reserves so that you are energized for your next workout!

10. Hydration

Drink about half of your body weight in water, but do not exceed more than 128 floz daily without discussing with a medical professional. It is normal for individuals to use the bathroom between every 1-2 hours throughout the day. If you are going more frequently, you may be overhydrated. If you are going less frequently you are likely dehydrated. Water is a key component in all the metabolic pathways in your body, so fill up and determine if you are hungry or thirsty. Just remember that on average the body can live for about 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

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