Here’s a fun fact about your appetite: The average human stomach generally feels full with about a litre of food, which is about four times its default size.
Then why do we sometimes feel peckish after a filling meal? There are a few factors.
The most likely reason is that your brain wants you to eat, even when you’re not actually starving. This scenario might sound familiar: You’re trying to plough through a report on your computer, but you can’t seem to focus without having something to nibble on.
This is normal. Your brain is fuelled by food; anything that requires intensive mental work really does whet your appetite. In the study, participants required to perform mental tasks ate 100 more calories than those who weren’t.
But the problem with this kind of snacking is that we often overdo it, indulging in low-nutrition foods that are rich in calories.
To make matters worse, these are sedentary tasks we’re talking about. With a high calorie input and low calorie output, it naturally leads to the creeping weight gain experienced by most deskbound workers.
What are some proven ways to shrink our appetites naturally?
So what should you do with your insatiable hunger? Bingeing whenever you feel like certainly isn’t sustainable. An American study by the New York Obesity Research Center even warned that regular overeating can cause your stomach’s capacity to increase in the long run.
Much like an inflated balloon, once your stomach has been stretched out repeatedly, it doesn’t quite shrink back to its original size. In extreme circumstances, you might even have to resort to gastric banding surgery.
To avoid getting to this point, here are some evidence-based tips to shrink your appetite naturally.
Get more sleep
Not sleeping enough can make you very hungry indeed. That’s because fatigue impairs your frontal lobe, the region of your brain that governs your appetite. This can result in stubborn hunger pangs to persist through the day, according to this research paper published in the journal Sleep.
In the study, sleep-deprived participants consumed twice as much fat as when they had eight hours of sleep. Don’t take this lightly: That totals to an extra 300 calories per day!
Snack on dark chocolate
Make dark chocolate your ally! According to a popular study by the University of Copenhagen, dark chocolate is a natural appetite inhibitor. That’s because it contains compounds that slow down digestion, making you feel satiated for much longer.
In this experiment, researchers gave participants milk chocolate to snack on after a 12-hour fast. Two hours later, the participants were offered an unlimited amount of pizza. When researchers repeated this experiment with dark chocolate, the same group of participants ate 15% less pizza, and said that dark chocolate curbed their craving for fatty, salty and sugary foods.
Hydrate before a meal
Research by the University of Birmingham claims that two glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal could make you less compelled to overeat. We love it because this step is effortless and practically free! If plain water doesn’t sound exciting enough, flavour it with lemon or sprigs of mint.
Alternatively, small portions of clear vegetable soups (and hold the fattening ingredients like butter and cream, please) can have a similar effect. Don’t expect a miraculous amount of weight loss to follow, though.
At the very least, you’ll feel fuller for longer and learn to ration your food intake over time.
Spice it up!
If you can’t stand spicy food, garnishing your meal with chillies and gingers could certainly stop you from eating as much as you would have. But besides the obvious, capsaicin – the magic component in various spices – can actually promote satiety while shrinking your appetite. Its thermogenic properties also temporarily power up your metabolism. This won’t have a significant effect on your weight, but still.
Eat your vegetables
Experts recommend having five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but it’s not just for nutrients. Fresh produce will supply your body with plenty of hunger-killing dietary fibre. According to a report in Time magazine, fibre releases an anti-appetite compound called acetate as it’s being digested. Acetate is responsible for sending the signal to your brain that it’s time to stop eating.
And protein, too
Besides fibre, don’t forget to incorporate protein to your intake. Protein is the MVP when it comes to promoting feelings of fullness. But instead of loading up on red meat, go for healthier choices such as legumes, eggs, nuts and fish.
Use a smaller plate
According to an article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the size of your plates and utensils informs your idea of what a serving size is. Even nutrition experts were tricked into giving themselves 31% more food when given a larger plate. Use smaller dishes and cutlery if you want to eat less.
Before opening a snack, ask yourself if you’re starving or eating out of stress or boredom. Learning to identify your emotional eating triggers is half the battle won. If you’re hungering for food because you’re restless, distract yourself with healthier activities – preferably ones that can’t be carried out while you’re snacking. Let off some steam with a stroll or a jog!
Lose weight naturally with CSH therapy®
Learning how to shrink your appetite can foil unwanted weight gain in the long run. But if you’re already struggling with a weight problem due to a slowing metabolism, consider giving our signature CSH therapy® a try.
Using a traditional Chinese approach to weight loss, CSH therapy® is a natural method of restoring balance to your metabolism without exercise, supplements and extreme diets. And the best part: Because the treatment produces long-lasting effects, you won’t have to dread weight rebound either.