What affects appetite, and how to control it?

Hunger is a natural reaction of the body, which signals that it’s time to replenish the necessary supply of calories and nutrients. Everything is fine if we manage to keep our appetite under control. But often the sensations are false and we begin to consume food in order to drown out or, conversely, satisfy completely different needs. The result is excess weight, health problems, loss of strength and emotional discomfort when not food serves a person, but a person serves food. We understand how you can control your appetite, and what affects the feeling of hunger.

Hunger: why I’m so hungry

Our relationship with food is influenced by a huge number of factors: from emotional state to financial opportunities. The only objective reason for the appearance of hunger is simple — we really want to eat, and the body does not have enough energy for normal functioning. But there are a number of factors that affect appetite:

  • Genetics. Scientists have revealed that the melanocortin-4 receptor gene is responsible for maintaining body weight and eating behavior. An example of this is that by the age of 30, twins who grew up in different families had the same body weight and structure, although their nutrition was completely different throughout their lives. Also, the body produces the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which increases the response of dopamine to foods, and hence the feeling of hunger.
  • Involvement in the process. Have you noticed that in company or while watching TV you eat more, and sometimes you don’t even notice the taste of food? Distracted, the body may miss the feeling of satiety, because all the senses should be involved in this process. A similar reason is that you eat too fast, so the body simply does not have time to give you a signal about saturation in time.
  • A balanced diet. The feeling of satiety depends on both the volume and the composition of the food. For example, how does sweetness affect appetite? Chocolate will saturate quickly, but also quickly the feeling of hunger will return again. A meager, though voluminous diet is also not good: a lack of nutrients will make the body demand additional food. By the way, fats in food should also be at least 20-30% of the total volume. Another reason is dehydration, when the body confuses thirst with hunger.
  • Power mode. The lack of a clear nutrition schedule provokes spontaneous snacking — and often multiple full meals. You can not skip breakfast, because too long (from dinner to lunch or even the next dinner) break will provoke the highest concentration of ghrelin, which will lead to overeating.
  • Psychosomatics. Often we do not buy those products that are useful, but those that bring us pleasure. In a state of stress, the body either blocks these desires by reducing appetite, or tries to compensate for negative emotions with pleasant food.
  • External influence. Subscribed to culinary publics? Do you often see delicious photos of dishes in the feed? Do friends post their breakfasts and lunches on Instagram? This also makes us feel hungry and concentrate on food.
  • Medicines. Some hormonal medications, antidepressants and corticosteroids can lead to increased appetite. If you notice an increase in hunger after starting the course of treatment, consult your doctor.
  • Climate. Have you noticed that in winter you always want something fat and high-calorie, and in summer — light and invigorating? According to research, constant cold can increase metabolism by 5 times, which will cause hunger faster.

Does age affect appetite?

Were you scared as a child by a policeman who would pick you up if you didn’t finish everything that was put on your plate? In fact, these children’s horror stories can play a cruel joke in the future: appetite largely depends on eating habits, so it is important to teach children from early childhood to listen to the feeling of hunger and satiety, otherwise they can get fat by adolescence. In the first decade of life, it is especially important to maintain a balance between a harmonious diet of healthy foods and the ability to let the child independently determine whether he is hungry or not.

During puberty, hormones that affect appetite are produced — estrogens, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone, thyroid hormones, especially girls suffer from this. It is during this critical period that it is important to maintain the foundations laid in childhood, because some teenagers immediately stretch and become slimmer, while others gain weight, including due to uncontrolled food consumption.

In the period from 20 to 30 years, motherhood, the transition to a calmer or sedentary lifestyle can contribute to weight gain. If by this time the fat reserve is already large, then the body, with a lack of the usual amount of calories, begins to send hunger signals. The next decade is usually associated with increased anxiety due to career and grown-up children, and stress is one of the strongest appetite—provoking factors.

In the sixth decade, people gradually begin to lose muscle mass — this is called sarcopenia. Menopause and decreased motor activity contribute to this. Also, in this and the next decade, chronic diseases are becoming more and more persistent, so it is more important than ever to adhere to a balanced diet and give preference to products that will make up for the lack of vital substances.

Appetite: how to keep your mouth shut

If you have been following the wrong eating behavior for years, then you will not be able to overcome the obsessive feeling of hunger in one day once and for all. It will take several weeks or even months to form new habits: the process is long, but the effort is definitely worth it. There are several ways to develop long-term attitudes to the formation of an organic appetite and life hacks, how to learn to control appetite during the period of perestroika.

  • Consciously approach the choice of products. Go to the store with a list and do not make spontaneous purchases.
  • Clearly write down your diet and plan it in advance. You can use special applications for this or order complex sets of healthy food for a day or a week.
  • Have breakfast at home: this way you can avoid harmful snacks at work, which will undoubtedly cause a feeling of hunger before lunch.
  • Eat 5-6 times a day in small portions, using snacks in addition to 3 meals a day.
  • Replace harmful snacks with healthy ones. Instead of chocolate and pies, choose fruits, vegetables or protein bars.
  • Do not watch TV at the table, put away books and smartphones. While eating — just eat, listening to yourself.
  • Eat slowly so that you can feel the feeling of satiety in time.
  • Control the portion size: put on a plate exactly as much as you can eat. As soon as you feel full, get up from the table and do not finish the rest.
  • Set the table beautifully — for greater awareness, and use small plates — to see the portion size more clearly.
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours: with lack of sleep, the concentration of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin increases sharply, which leads to overeating.
  • How to control appetite in the evening? Plan the last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime, while throughout the day do not forget to eat according to the regime. If you really want to eat, drink a glass of warm water and go to bed.
  • Increase physical activity. Have you noticed that you don’t feel like eating after training? Loads pull fatty acids and glucose out of the body, which gives a feeling of satiety. And the endorphins released after training reduce hunger.
  • Take vitamins. Often the body signals a lack of nutrients with a feeling of hunger, help it with vitamin complexes.

How to recognize the feeling of hunger

There are several signs that allow you to determine the real physical hunger and not to confuse it with emotional:

  • Feeling of an empty stomach
  • The feeling that “sucks in the pit of the stomach”
  • Rumbling in the stomach

Products that will relieve hunger

To begin with, about the products that provoke hunger: sweet, flour, smoked, spicy, spicy sauces, alcohol, pickles and marinades. If you cannot live without chocolate, choose bitter, because it does not stimulate the secretion of gastric juice.
There are a number of products that suppress appetite, which makes it possible to reduce the amount of food consumed and avoid the appearance of hunger.

  • Vegetables. They are low-calorie, they have a lot of fiber and water. Thanks to this, they help to cope with dehydration, promote rapid saturation and help control blood sugar levels. Therefore, try to eat vegetables during each meal.
  • Water. Sometimes the body can mistake thirst for hunger, so if you want to eat at an untimely hour, drink a glass of warm water. By the way, to improve metabolism, it is worth doing this 15-20 minutes before each meal.
  • Protein. The amino acids contained in the protein help to control the feeling of hunger. Therefore, eat more cottage cheese, eggs, meat, legumes. So, according to the magazine Obesity, the appetite is much lower in people who regularly consume lentils, peas and beans.
  • Iodine-containing products. Sea fish and kelp are ideal.
  • Berries and fruits. For example, citrus fruits, figs, pineapples, pears, apples, oranges, cherries.
  • Avocado. According to research by nutritionists Nutrition Journal, half an avocado eaten for breakfast will allow you to avoid snacking during the day.
  • Soups. Of course, we are not talking about borscht, but about light vegetable soups, for example green or with celery. Fiber and water fill the stomach and help to stay full longer, and in addition soups are also low-calorie.
  • Nuts. The Nutrition Journal experiment showed that overweight women who ate 40 grams of nuts or peanut butter in the morning experienced a feeling of satiety for several hours longer than the participants of the experiment who did not include this product in the diet.

Hunger is not just an unpleasant feeling that prevents you from focusing on more important things and causes internal discomfort. If it occurs due to improper eating behavior, which leads to emotional and physical dependence on food. I am glad that it can be curbed and in a short time to give your body health, and your soul psychological comfort.

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