AN overactive appetite can definitely put a damper on any weight loss and fitness initiative, especially if you are the type that can't help yourself when you see your favourite foods.
While cognisant of the fact that a pattern of unhealthy snacking is hard to break, nutritionist Tiffany Powell believes it is possible to gain control of one's eating habits by keeping your appetite in check.
"It is very important to know how to suppress your appetite because you want results," she said, before noting that, "If you don't learn how to suppress your appetite, then you won't be able to accomplish your weight loss goals."
But before investing your hard-earned cash into one of those infomercials that promise to ward off cravings, why not try even less expensive and possibly more effective methods of getting a handle on your hunger pangs instead? That way you don't have to worry about the side effects of downing tonnes of diet pills and concoctions meant to make you feel full longer.
If you are a dieter and you're currently losing your battle with the bulge, check out the following natural ways to curb an overactive appetite and ensure success.
1. Eat more fibre-rich foods. Raw foods and vegetables are excellent sources of fibre which help to keep you fuller for longer. Whole grains and nuts such as almonds will help to kill your sugar cravings so you will be less tempted to indulge in unhealthy carbs.
2. Have breakfast. A healthy breakfast will kickstart your metabolism so you can lose weight faster and ensure that your blood sugar level doesn't drop during the early part of the day. A boiled egg with a small serving of oats and milk, for example, is enough to sustain your blood sugar level so that you won't experience too many hunger pangs mid-day.
3. Avoid refined and processed carbohydrates. Limit your intake of these by cutting out white bread, buns, cakes and sweets from your diet. Sweeteners, for example, help to increase your insulin levels which further fuels your cravings.
4. Use lots of hot spices. Lower your blood sugar level and decrease your sugar cravings by adding lots of spices to your favourite meals. A dash of cinnamon powder or chilli pepper is a better alternative to sugar and salt which are sometimes used to add taste to lacklustre dishes.
5. Utilise blue. Research has shown that the colour blue is a natural appetite suppressant while red, orange and yellow have been shown to ignite your hunger flames. "Blue suppresses the need to want something more," said Powell. So whenever possible, try eating from a small blue plate that would also ensure that your food is more proportionate.
6. Have some dark chocolate. If you are feeling like something sweet, try having two pieces of dark chocolate which will help to stabilise your blood sugar level and help to keep you fuller. The bitter taste of chocolate and cocoa-based foods have also been shown to help decrease appetite. But these results will not be gained by eating milk chocolate.
7. Go potatoes. Instead of loading your plate with rice, try having baked or boiled sweet potatoes instead, which contain properties that make them stay in the body much longer. This way, you won't feel so hungry and tempted to eat as much food. "It's one of the carbohydrates that helps your endurance level," explained Powell.
8. Incorporate more proteins. Protein-rich foods help to suppress your appetite by helping to send a satiety signal to the brain when consumed. However, Powell believes lean protein is best since, "animal proteins have been known to give you longevity throughout the day."
9 Drink water. This is one of the most natural and cost-effective appetite suppressants because it helps to quell hunger pangs. Drinking water contributes to your body feeling full, although you will have to release this water at intervals, mostly by passing urine. Having a cup of water before eating is, for example, a good way to ensure that you don't overeat.
10 Wait out your cravings. You will experience fake cravings throughout the day, which you will be able to survive if you try taking your mind off it for a while. You will know you're experiencing real hunger if you still crave something after about 20 minutes. Try keeping yourself occupied as you wait out your hunger, since boredom helps to trigger fake cravings.