For whatever reason, if you’re looking to make changes to your diet then learning how to successfully manage your appetite is key. If you don’t, you may find yourself feeling hungry, lacking in energy or demotivated. However, if you follow these steps below, you should be able to work with your body, giving it what it needs to thrive, healthily.
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1. Have protein every time you eat
Protein helps to keep us fuller for longer by keeping out blood sugar levels more stable than if we were to eat carbohydrates on their own. Studies suggest that when we eat protein foods, signals are sent to the brain about our energy intake, and this helps to curb hunger. By having protein with every meal, and any snacks, this can increase satiety and therefore reduce appetite throughout the day. Lean protein includes lean meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products (for example semi-skimmed milk, cottage cheese and yogurt). Plant-based protein includes beans, lentils and soy.
Try these delicious high-protein dinner ideas.
2. Add more good fats to your diet
Like protein, good fats also help to increase satiety and reduce our appetite, and because they are more calorie-dense we don’t need to add a lot to our meals. These good fats are unsaturated, whole foods such as olive oil, avocado, olive, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish (for example, mackerel, salmon and sardines).
Try our best ever cashew recipes.
3. Avoid going hungry or for long periods without food
When we skip meals or have too long between meals, this makes you hungrier so that when you then do start to eat, it takes longer for you to feel full and can lead to overeating. The best way to avoid getting over-hungry is to eat around every 3-4 hrs – three small meals with a healthy mid-afternoon snack is perfect. Protein-rich snacks (like a yogurt or a boiled egg) or fibre-rich snacks (such as oatcakes or hummus with crudités) are the best choices to make you feel fuller longer.
Discover our top protein-rich snack recipes.
4. Don’t eat in front of your computer or the TV
Believe it or not, your brain cannot concentrate on two things at once, so if you eat while sending emails at your desk, or in front of the TV, you’re more likely to miss the ‘I’m full’ signals that your stomach sends your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people listened to a detective story as they were eating, they ate 13% more calories than they did without any distractions.
Read about how to eat mindfully.
5. Fill up on fibre
Fibre fills us up, so a fibre-rich diet helps slow digestion, which increases satiety, and as a result improves appetite regulation. Fibre is also important when it comes to gut microbiome, so choose wholemeal breads and brown rice and pasta instead of white. Try adding beans and pulses to salads, stews and soups, and add more fruit and vegetables into your day, especially those that can be eaten with their skin on, such as apples, pears, berries and potatoes.
Increase your fibre intake with our top recipe suggestions.
6. Eat more fruit and veg
Their high-water content will help fill you up. In fact, enjoying a healthy fruit snack, such as an apple, before you go shopping can help improve your choices in the supermarket. Researchers found that those who ate an apple before they went food shopping purchased 25% more fruit and vegetables during the trip.
If you have a piece of fruit with some protein, such as an apple and a small piece of cheese or a banana with a small handful of nuts, this will further increase your satiety, as the protein helps to slow down the release of the fruit’s natural sugars.
Discover the 11 things you find out when you start eating 10-a-day.
7. Drink before you eat
Drink a large glass of water 10 minutes before you’re due to sit down to eat. Many fear that drinking water before or while eating dilutes gastric juices, and as a result impacts the efficiency of their digestion. However, this assumes that your body is unable to adapt to the consistency of your meal, which research suggests is not the case.
8. Take your time
Lay your knife and fork down on the table between each mouthful. Chew food thoroughly before taking a second mouthful and focus on what you’re eating – all of these things help slow down the pace at which you eat. When you eat slowly, you’ll feel full more quickly.
9. Enjoy your food whole where possible
Studies suggest that the softer the texture of your food, the easier it is to eat and the more of it you’re likely to eat! Try swapping mashed potatoes and creamed carrots for whole new potatoes in their skins and chunky carrot batons.
10. Have breakfast
Starting your day with a healthy breakfast helps your body keep its blood sugars stable in the morning, and also leads to better food choices throughout the day. In fact, recent research has indicated that having a bigger breakfast can help reduce hunger cravings for the rest of the day.
Start you day with one of our high-fibre breakfast recipes.
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This article was last updated on 13 December 2022.
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