Tired of staying stuck? If you’re ready to reduce your appetite and eat less, here are 8 strategies to try:
Pay attention: Your body actually sends you signals when you’re hungry and when you’re full, the same way it sends you signals when you’re tired and when you need to pee. You have to pay attention to notice these signals (Interoceptive Awareness) – and then you have to honor them! Not like the way you ‘hold it’ until you’re about to burst. Not like the way you stay up so late your eyes burn. You have to first recognize/realize/notice when your body says you’re full and it wants you to stop eating and then you have to actually stop. How to do that?
Slow down: Eating is a time to sit and take a break. Fullness is hard to notice when you’re scarfing down that granola bar between meetings or sucking down that smoothie in the car. Make the time to sit and chew and experience your food, in an environment where things are quiet and calm enough for you to be able to notice when you’re full and stop eating. The cues can be subtle, particularly if you’re not in the habit of noticing them. See above.
Eat a variety of foods: To feel satisfied, strive to have a combination of protein, fat, and fiber each time you eat. Cheat Sheet: Proteins walked around. Fiber grew in the ground. Fat makes them both taste good.
More plants: Modern times have made it challenging to eat fruits and vegetables. Our convenience focused lifestyle often doesn’t allow for the time it takes to prepare and eat plants. But here’s the deal. Fiber (these are plants = grew in the ground) is filling, it nutrient-dense, and the chewing it takes to eat it takes the time it takes for you to get those fullness cues. Bonus, the chewing stimulates the juices in your body needed for good digestion. Cheat Sheet: Plants are fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Feed your guests: Your gut is home to billions of microbes. It’s a symbiotic relationship: if you feed them, they do all sorts of good stuff for you. They create serotonin – which makes you happy and, wait for it, is an appetite suppressant. They also create CCK, PPY, Leptin, and GLP-1, all of which are appetite suppressants. Those little bacteria guys can be your best friends if you’re looking to control your appetite and eat less. And what do they eat? Fiber and color. That’s plants. See above.
Get a napkin: the only way you’re going to know when to STOP eating before you’re bursting is to know when you START eating. There has to be a beginning for there to be an end. Consider the napkin a tangible signal that it’s time to slow down and eat. The great traditions of the world recommend a prayer, too, but if that’s not your groove, use the napkin as your talisman.
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and satiety, leading to increased appetite. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. And turn off those friggin’ electronics an hour before you go to bed.
Manage stress and emotions: Overeating is often a symptom of stress. Angry, lonely, ignored, bored, put upon, unappreciated, frustrated, misunderstood, overworked, overwhelmed, these are all feelings that we turn to food to fix. And usually not nutrient dense foods. And usually not in small quantities. So, if you want to eat less, find ways to soothe those feelings in ways that aren’t food. Food isn’t going to fix the problem, anyway.
Now, that’s a lot, I know. The good news is there are lots of inroads to controlling your appetite and eating less, and now you have plenty of options to choose from. Pick the one that seems most manageable to you and start today. Beginner’s Tip: start with the napkin. It can be paper, cloth, one from Crate and Barrel or one from the dispenser at Starbucks. Just have something you can touch to bring your attention to the present and begin the eating experience. This will set you up to eat less. Also, it’s nice to have something you can wipe your mouth and fingers with.