A strong appetite may be a sign of good health, but what if you’re trying to lose weight and your appetite just won’t turn off? Fad appetite suppressant pills like hoodia gordonii promise the moon, but are more likely to waste your cash and leave you with a worthless product that could make you sick. If you’re ready to control binge eating and lose weight, forget the latest fraudulent weight-loss craze. You need look no further than your faucet, your breakfast plate and the produce section of your local supermarket.
1. Drink (lots of) water
The cheapest and healthiest appetite suppressant is lots of fresh water. Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is necessary for a variety of health reasons: staying hydrated, clearer skin, elimination of body toxins… but doing so also helps curb your appetite. Drinking an 8-ounce glass of water when you start to feel hunger pangs, or before sitting down to a meal during which you might be tempted to overeat, can help you get a temporary handle on a growling stomach.
If drinking 64 ounces of plain water every day sounds like a monotonous hell, there are a number of ways to remedy this. Try adding freshly shredded mint leaves, slices of citrus or slices of cucumber to your water to impart a little flavor. Unsweetened, uncolored seltzers also count as water intake, though carbonated water should account for no more than one or two glasses per day.
2. Leafy greens, apples and pickles
Eating something to curb your appetite might seem counterintuitive. If the food in question is a high-fiber, no-fat, low-calorie food that gives you a “full” feeling for hours, however, then go for it!
Leafy greens like cabbage, bok choy, kale, spinach or arugula contain enough fiber to convince your stomach that it’s done eating for a while, even though they barely register on the calorie radar. To give them a little more pizzazz, add a low-calorie vinegar for dressing.
Pickles that are sugar free are also low calorie and filling; fashion models eat them frequently as a snack. Apples are also low calorie and filling because of their high fiber content. Opt for organic apples, whenever possible.
3. Start the day with protein
Your parents were right: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly if you’re trying to control your weight. A recent study carried out by the University of Missouri’s Department of Exercise Physiology determined that women who ate a breakfast high in protein felt fuller and ate less not only in the hours leading up to lunch, but during lunch as well. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional bowl of natural cereal or plate of French toast, but scrambled eggs and/or Greek yogurt sprinkled with walnuts will pack more of a protein punch, keeping you satisfied through the better part of your day.
4. Limit variety per meal
This trick sounds odd, or at the very least dull, but essentially this method involves limiting the different types of flavors during a meal. Why would this work as an appetite suppressant?
According to David Katz, physician and head of the Yale Prevention Research Center, the areas of the mind involved with appetite become overwhelmed when there are a number of different, competing flavors in one meal. This leads you to indulge more than you normally might, because the brain has a harder time keeping track of which flavors have been satisfied fully.
Katz has devised what he calls a “flavor point diet,” in which each meal has one specific flavor. Unhealthy, processed foods are also completely eliminated from the flavor point diet, not only because of their lack of nutritive value, but because they confuse the mind’s appetite centers with their simultaneous, extreme flavors.