Suppress Your Appetite by Eating Real, Whole Food
Do you feel like you need to suppress your appetite?
Society and culture in the United States pressures us to look a certain way. However, the overabundance of processed and fatty foods, coupled with the sedentary lifestyle that many Americans lead due to the type of work that is available, results in a constant struggle for the average person to maintain a healthy weight.
Dieting, especially the renouncement of carbohydrates, is popular, but in my opinion not the best solution. Diets are temporary; changes in lifestyle are more permanent.
Appetite suppression is one supposed solution to the problem of "eating too much" and "gaining weight." The practice also goes hand-in-hand with dieting.
I believe that if our bodies are telling us something we should listen. So rather than simply trying to find a way to suppress our appetites, we should try to figure out why we feel hungry in the first place. If an out-of-control appetite is the problem, then the solution is to determine the cause or causes of the problem, and address them.
So what's an appetite, anyway?
If you have an appetite, it means you feel hungry, right? If you're hungry, I doubt it's because you're not eating at all. In fact, if you're interested in appetite suppression, you probably feel like you're already eating enough, or maybe even too much.
So if you're eating, but still feel hungry, there must be a problem with what you're eating. I think this is the key to figuring out how to curb what feels like an out-of-control appetite.
Sometimes we think we're hungry when we're actually dehydrated; or, we're craving a necessary nutrient that we're not getting from the food we're eating.
Evaluate the Food Labels
If you evaluate the labels on most of the processed, pre-packaged, and "not whole" foods in your grocery store, I think you'll find that most of the food is made of three main ingredients: Corn, soy, and wheat.
As food, there's not much wrong with corn, soy, or wheat; they're just grains, afterall. In fact, they've been staples of the human diet for thousands of years.
The problem is that if all we're eating is corn and/or soy and/or wheat, then we don't have enough variety in our diets and will become nutritionally deficient. The human body just wasn't built to only consume one type of food.
Evaluate Your Diet
To anyone who feels that they need to suppress their appetite, I would suggest that you evaluate your diet. Are you eating a lot of processed foods or starchy foods?
Check the ingredients on your food labels - is corn and soy the main ingredient in just about everything you're eating? If so, then you're probably lacking nutrition, not calories, making you feel hungry. (By the way, corn is the main ingredient in just about everything that I feed to my livestock - think about it.)
You should try to eat a more balanced diet to correct the problem of being hungry. If our bodies are telling us something we should get to the bottom of it, not just try to "suppress" the feelings. Sometimes we think we're hungry because our bodies are craving a necessary nutrient that we haven't been getting from the food we've been eating.
We can do things to correct the problems caused by eating too much processed food, and too much of the same food.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables - The Real Ones
Foods high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like fruits and vegetables should help bring to balance an appetite that seems to be all over the place.
One of the problems that I see with attempting to eat more fruits and vegetables is that there are so many food products on the market that are "fruit flavored," or claim to contain "10% real juice." This sort of food isn't enough - in fact, it's not even real food. Candy and chewing gum "made with real fruit", grape flavored candy apples, corn syrup mixed with water containing 5% fruit juice, highly-processed creamy "spinach" dip, "vegetable flavored" crackers - these foods aren't real. They won't satisfy the human nutritional requirements that should be met by eating an apple, or a potato, or spinach, or carrots.
When I suggest eating fruits and vegetables, I mean whole fruits and whole vegetables. Preferably fresh, and raw when you can get away with it. Some vegetables don't retain all of their good stuff when cooked.
The fiber found in these foods helps you feel full, and also promotes healthy digestion.
Fruit also contains sugar, which we all want, but in a healthier package than a cookie or a bottle of soda.
Eating a variety of vegetables, especially leafy greens, will help ensure that you are getting the right vitamins and minerals. Fruits often contain Vitamin C, an immune system aid. Root vegetables like potatoes and turnips are rich in minerals and vitamins.
Different vegetables and fruits have different nutritional profiles, so a varied diet is the best way to not only keep yourself from getting bored but also to ensure a nutritionally complete diet.
Variety really is the spice of life! We can still eat our corn, soy, and wheat, but we won't be starving anymore if we mix it up with lots of whole vegetables and fruits.
One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables and fruit into your diet is to grow your own. If you've never grown your own food before, you can learn how to start a garden "from scratch" and be on your way to eating more veggies.
Protein Recommendations for Adults
- Women - 46 grams per day
- Men - 56 grams per day
Eat Lean Protein
Protein is an essential part of the human diet. It helps with digestion, and also aids in the repair and structure of muscles, skin, hair, bones and eyes. Protein is one of the macronutrients, something our bodies need relatively large amounts of (carbohydrates and fats are also macronutrients, so don't throw those away!)
Whether you get protein from chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish ,venison, groundhog, nuts, or beans, you need it to function properly.
Protein takes a little longer to digest than vegetables and starchy foods, so making sure you get enough lean protein to eat will help you to feel full.
Protein for breakfast and lunch -
Having a good protein source for breakfast and another one at lunch helps get you through the day. Pancakes smothered in sugary corn syrup might taste better than hard boiled eggs, but the energy you derive from the sugar will be gone quickly, while the protein-packed eggs will last much longer.
Still hungry? Snack on whole foods like vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt, or nuts in between meals.
One of my favorite breakfast items is chicken. Just plain old chicken. No kidding! If I have some left-over roasted chicken for breakfast, I am out the door and working outside in the cold, in the heat, in the snow (or whatever the weather) and I'm able to get through without feeling like I'm going to drop from hunger.
Eat More Meals!
Eat five or six smaller meals per day, rather than one small breakfast and two large meals.
Eating smaller amounts of food more often is more natural for our bodies. This pattern of eating helps our metabolism stay regular, and doesn't cause huge shocks to our systems by letting our stomachs get empty, then suddenly filling them to the limit with huge amounts of food.
Getting hungry and then eating a large meal also makes the act of digestion burn more water, causing us to dehydrate, and probably end up feeling hungry all over again as a result! (If you've ever gone to a Chinese-American food buffet, you know what I mean - stuff your face, get so full you wish you'd never eaten at all, then feel hungry again an hour or two later.)
Though more research is needed, Monosodium Glutamate is purported to have the following negative effects on people:
- Spikes in insulin which can lead to diabetes over time
- Strange food cravings
- A reaction quite like addiction (needing/wanting more MSG)
Stay Away from Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a popular "flavor" additive in many foods.
In fact, it's in more places than you might think, including a very popular brand of nacho-flavored corn chips, a based-on-a-popular-cooking-show name brand line of chicken stock and other soup stocks, popular "healthy" cereal with a name similar to "nutty grapes" (if you get my drift), cheese products, and more.
The jury may still be out on the detrimental effects of MSG, but in my opinion it should be avoided where possible. And here's my reasoning.
If a food is nutritionally-packed and good for you, why should it need a flavor enhancer like MSG? It wouldn't. So the only foods that taste so lifeless as to need MSG are foods that are nutritionally deficient.
Glutamate, the part of MSG that we actually worry about, is found naturally in foods that are generally high in protein. Glutamate tells our body that we've just ingested a good protein source, which triggers all sorts of chemical processes including the release of insulin. This is fine if we're eating a big burger or some chicken breast, but what if what we've eaten is really just corn, a food low in protein? In this case, we trick our bodies into "thinking" we've eaten something that we haven't actually eaten.
Doesn't sound very good to me. Personally, I stay away from MSG.
In my experience, consuming MSG makes me want more MSG. That means that if I eat the popular "cheese-flavored" corn chip, even just a small bag, I'll find myself wanting more the next day. The food product starts to look good to me, even though I know it's basically nutritionally worthless.
Don't take my word for it. Try cutting foods out of your diet that contain MSG, and see if you don't feel better.
Easy on the Sugar
Eating sugar makes you want to eat more sugar. It's really that simple.
Excess sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain, and we all know that being overweight can then lead to a whole slew of other medical problems.
Sugar doesn't need to be avoided altogether, however. Natural sources of sugar like fruit are good for us, and we should eat them. The occasional cookie or chocolate bar won't kill you, either.
The problem with sugar is that, like corn, it's in so much of the food available at the grocery store that sometimes we don't even know we're eating it. Even most of the bread on the shelf has sugar in it, in the form of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. In fact, one of the most popular sweeteners on the market today happens to be corn syrup - so there's a double whammy. More corn to go with our corn, and too much sugar!
Drink Plenty of Water
Sometimes we think we're a little hungry when we're actually dehydrated. Making water the majority of the fluid that you drink every day will contribute to an all-around healthier you.
Cut back on fruit juices (though you don't have to cut them out altogether).
Skip the sodas. Soda is nutritionally worthless. Sorry, but it is. If you're craving a soda, you probably actually need a piece of fruit or something salty (you need sodium), so have a glass of water with an apple or some berries and a couple peanuts or crackers.
At least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day is recommended; or more specifically, about 13 cups for men and about 9 cups for women.
I'm not trying to give nutritional advice that will take all the fun out of eating, and for the record I am not a nutritionist, health specialist, or diet counselor. I'm a farmer - but I'm really just a young woman seeking a simple, healthy life.
I've found since my college days of too much beer, chips, and pizza, that I feel so much better both physically and mentally when I'm putting good, whole food in my body and getting plenty of exercise and sunshine to go with it. I hope that what I've shared here might be useful to you!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Rachel Koski Nielsen