Have you noticed that the more you try to control what you eat, the hungrier you feel?
This is a common occurrence especially with people who are changing their diets.
As a Mississauga naturopathic doctor with a special interest in natural weight loss, I see a number of patients with a desire to lose weight.
What stands in their way?
A number of things, but a big one is cravings.
How can you control cravings for food?
Read on to find out.
Why Is Junk Food So Appealing?
Back in 2004, Dr. Michael T. Murray wrote an article for Total Health called “Key Triggers of an Increased Appetite and a Natural Solution”, and the information is just as relevant today as it was back then.
“The urge to eat reflects a very complex system,” he writes, “that has evolved to help humans deal with food shortage.”
In our natural human habitat, we didn’t have anywhere near as much access to food as we do today.
Our ancestors couldn’t just stroll down to the grocery store and pick up a mammoth steak.
They had to hunt and forage for it, and would sometimes have to spend a few days or more without eating.
The truth is that most of us, especially those who live in the developed world, have no idea what food shortage is like, and hopefully never will.
But your body doesn’t know that.
It behaves in much the same way as your ancestors’ bodies did tens of thousands of years ago.
Your body is interested in gaining weight, because the excess fat you develop is consumed by your body on the days where you don’t have anything to eat.
This is great for the natural world, but since most of us almost never go a day without eating, we end up continuing to store fat.
We build it up, layer upon layer, until we burn it off through exercise.
Or not, and we all know the results of that.
So you’re stuck with a situation where your mind is programmed to want to eat the food in front of you, pile on the fat, and only burn it when needed.
It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with weight loss.
But there is hope. There are measures you can take which will help you suppress your appetite, training your stomach to only send hunger signals to your brain when you are actually hungry.
Eat food to suppress your appetite?
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s an integral part of any natural weight loss plan.
Here are five ways you can curb your appetite, naturally.
1. Have A Glass Of Water
When you’re hungry, your body sends a “hungry” signal to your brain.
And when you’re thirsty, your body sends a “thirsty” signal to your brain.
The problem is telling the difference.
A 2010 study published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour found that, among other things, the body’s mechanism for informing your brain when it needs food is eerily similar to its mechanism for telling you it needs water.
So the next time you’re feeling hungry at a time that doesn’t seem to make much sense, have a glass of water. You may actually be thirsty, not hungry at all.
2. Drink Some Herbal Tea
Certain herbal teas can also work as appetite suppressants.
Yerba mate and red raspberry leaf teas are especially effective for this.
They have stimulant qualities which help you feel fuller sooner after eating.
They have all sorts of other benefits as well.
Red raspberry leaf tea, for example, helps with pregnancy, can help ward off postpartum depression, and helps with male reproductive health.
Yerba mate, on the other hand, can help promote cardiovascular health by keeping fat from sticking to your arterial walls, helps with digestion, and has nearly twice as many antioxidants as green tea.
Speaking of green tea, it’s a great choice as well.
Not only can it curb your appetite, it can also help reduce the formation of fat cells by means of the flavonoid epigallocatechin gallate(ECGC).
As a result, green tea is an excellent weight loss aid.
Keep in mind, though, that green tea does have caffeine in it.
Less than coffee does, to be sure, but caffeine does come with its own set of risks.
It can cause high blood pressure, heart palpitations, behavioral changes and even cardiac arrest, especially in people who are sensitive to caffeine, or who have high blood pressure, arteriolosclerosis, or glucose intolerance.
If you have any of the above conditions, or if you have experienced a strong negative reaction to caffeine or other stimulants in the past, speak with your naturopathic doctor or primary health care provider before adding green tea or green tea extract to your weight loss plan.
3. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is not only a natural appetite suppressant, it also helps your entire digestive system function better.
Some of the best sources of fiber include apples, nuts & seeds, and vegetables with peels & skins, like potatoes or carrots.
Two of our new favourite teas, yerba matte and red raspberry leaf, can also provide some fiber in your diet.
4. Get Up And Move
Exercise. It’s the best way to control your appetite, boost your metabolism, and really, the best weight loss plan.
It’s not just about burning fat either.
Exercise affects your hypothalamus, the part of your brain in charge of your appetite, among other things.
One of its jobs is to keep you posted on your stomach’s state.
If you’re hungry, it lets you know.
And if you’re full, it lets you know that too.
Your hypothalamus is affected by the levels of certain chemicals in your blood, including glucose, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and others.
A study by Zand, Spreen, and LaValle, showed that “physical activity reduces the levels of the hunger-stimulating chemicals that cause the appestat to start the stomach growling for food, and increases the levels of the chemicals that signal to the appestat that the body is humming along at peak efficiency and doesn’t require food”.
In other words, you can trick your body into thinking it isn’t hungry by exercising.
In fact, you can stave off hunger for up to six hours with exercise.
5. Supplement Your Diet
Here is a list of natural supplements which have been shown to help reduce appetite:
Evening Primrose Oil – 500 mg of evening primrose oil in the morning may help suppress your appetite for the entire day!
Gamma-Linolenic Acid – This is the active component in flaxseed oil, blackcurrant seed, and the evening primrose oil mentioned above. It helps suppress your appetite by helping control the metabolism of fats.
Cumin – in addition to helping suppress your appetite, cumin also helps aid digestion, improves immunity, helps with insomnia, and more!
Gymnemasylvestre – This herb can reduce or even eliminate the taste of sugar for up to 90 minutes.
Doctors have been using it in India for centuries to treat diabetes, and Western doctors are starting to warm up to it too.
If you have a sweet tooth, try taking some Gymnemasylvestre.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
If you’re struggling to lose weight, contact us here at the Mindful Healing Clinic in Mississauga.
You’ll get a chance to sit down with me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi in your FREE 15-minute health and wellness session.
During that time, you’ll get a chance to ask questions, and your concerns addressed, and find out how naturopathic medicine can help you with how to lose weight and keep it off.
Looking for an all-natural weight loss solution based on science and guided by a qualified healthcare professional?
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE 15-minute session today.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.