If your appetite is always leading you into making bad choices, then there might be some lifestyle changes you can make to help with this which could stop you from always feeling hungry. If you can get your appetite under control, then it's easier to resist eating every tasty treat you come across. So if you are always hungry and your mind is always on the next snack you can eat, here are some questions to ask yourself that can help you to understand why you can’t stop eating.
Are you getting enough sleep?
If you don't get enough sleep, it could actually increases your appetite, but in particular cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. We won't go into it here (we'll do another blog for this) but this is due to the signals which regulate your hunger.
When you feel tired, you often eat more to try and give yourself the energy you need to get through the day. This need for energy will push you towards choosing calorie-dense foods which give you a boost but don't fill you up.
You've probably experienced this if you've ever pulled an all-nighter. However, the effect is the same, if a little more subtle, when you have any less sleep than you need. So if you find that you are struggling to control your appetite and are always yawning, then try making sure you’re getting between the recommended 7-9 hours a night.
Do you eat too many refined carbs?
Foods that contain highly refined carbohydrates are generally lacking in dietary fibre. This means that they are digested quickly, which is great for getting an energy boost. However, it is not so great for leaving you feeling satisfied.
So if you're struggling with feeling hungry and your diet consists of a lot of refined carbs this could be the source of your problem. You find refined carbs in pretty much anything that has sugar or processed grains. Things like white bread, pastries and rice are all examples of foods that are not as filling as you think this should be due to the lack of dietary fibre.
Should you eat more protein?
When it comes to controlling your appetite, protein is the king. Higher levels of protein in your diet are linked with reduced appetite. There are a couple of ways you can use this to help you manage your eating.
There are more scientific ways to ensure you’re getting enough protein, but an easy way is every time you sit down for a meal, try and make sure that around 20-30% of that meal is protein. This should ensure that your body is getting all the protein that it needs, which should help control your appetite.
We all need to ensure we’re eating a balanced diet of protein, fats and carbohydrates, but it can be easy to overeat fats and carbohydrates, so just increasing the amount of protein a little bit where possible should help.
Are you drinking enough water?
Sometimes it can be hard to understand the messages your body is sending you. It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger. So if you are struggling with your appetite, have a look at how much you are drinking in a day. It can be helpful to keep a diary just keep track of how much you really are drinking. You could also buy a water bottle with time markers on, or you can get devices that you stick on your water bottle and will remind you to drink.
When your logging your intake, try not to include fizzy drinks and tea or coffee. We’re not saying don’t drink them (everything in moderation) but caffeine can actually dehydrate you (hydrate before you caffeinate) and also both caffeine and fizzy drinks can stimulate your bladder, which means you’ll be making more trips to the toilet and you probably won’t get any of the hunger reducing benefits.
You should be drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water a day. That's around eight glasses of water. If you're not hitting that target, then the next time you feel hungry drink a glass of water. Then wait a couple of minutes and see if you're still hungry.
Do you get enough fibre in your diet?
Practically no one actually gets enough fibre in their diet. Fibre is crucial in your diet; it allows all the food you consume to move through you properly so that you can digest it effectively. It also bulks out your food without increasing the calorie content. Increasing the amount of fibre in your meals can make them feel heartier.
Eating more fibre doesn't directly suppress your appetite, but it does have a lot of health benefits. Having a healthier digestive system can affect your mood and your attitude. This change can be enough to help you control your eating.
Great sources of dietary fibre include anything with wholegrain cereals in them. Think whole-grain pasta, bread, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables also contain good amounts of fibre.
If you're not sure which of these changes you should make it can be worth keeping a food diary for a little while. This will help you become aware of what you are actually eating. Even the act of knowing you have to write down what you going to eat might nudge you towards making better choices.
There are apps available where you can log your food and will tell you if there are any key components such as fibre, protein or nutrients that you are missing out on, so you can adjust your eating plan accordingly.