Patients ask me all the time what’s the best way to control or suppress their appetites? I frequently hear, “Doc, somedays I feel like my appetite is out of control.” Most of us have felt that way at some time in our lives. The interesting part of this is that most people seek out carbs when they are really hungry. Why? Could it be a blood sugar issue? And carbs convert to sugar quickly? Rarely if ever does someone crave a bowel of Brussel sprouts! They might sound good but we don’t crave them.
We crave carbs. Mainly processed carbs. And one of the driving forces behind the cravings is added sugar. Carbohydrates are an important part of our nutrition, but most Americans consume too many. When we talk about carbs I’m basically referring to grains; although there are carbs in most foods. Many grains turn to sugar quickly in the blood, which causes a rapid rise in your blood sugar and then the hormone insulin spikes in an attempt to control the blood sugar. Insulin spikes increase the risk for pre-diabetes as well as diabetes itself.
The rapid rise in blood sugar is hard on the body and what goes up must come down. Meaning, if your blood sugar goes up then it has to come down and sometimes it comes down too low and that increase your hunger. For some people, this could occur as soon as 1-2 hours after you just ate! “Geez, I’m hungry again!? I just ate.” So how do we combat this spike in our blood sugar and how can we suppress our appetites? Here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes we confuse a thirst signal as a hunger signal. So before you mow the whole pizza drink a large glass of water. Preferably filtered water.
- Eat foods that are rich in fiber. Fiber helps slow the absorption of glucose so we can avoid a spike with then a drop. It also feeds good bacteria in the gut and binds to toxins in the intestines. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber daily from our diets. Foods rich in fiber are fruits and veggies some whole grains. Not refined grains and not fruit juices
- Eat protein with each meal. Protein is very satiating (feeling full). And helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level to avoid ups and downs that drive our hunger.
- Eat plenty of healthy fats during the day. Avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, olive oils, coconut oils are great choices and should be consumed frequently in our diets. Several studies lately are demonstrating the benefits of healthy fats and how they can stabilize your blood sugar and help us feel full for several hours after a meal. Healthy fats have been shown to reduce cravings and especially reduce sugar cravings!! Bring on the bacon!
- Supplement your well-balanced diet with nutrient dense supplements that can help curb an appetite. Botanicals that help stabilize your blood sugar, balance the stress response, and accelerate your metabolism are good choices to add to your daily routines.
- Physical activity can help control your appetite due to its ability to support the proper function of the hormone insulin and to maintain optimal digestive health. Make sure to get plenty of protein into your system within an hour post-exercise.
These are simple tips but when implemented on a daily basis can help you achieve your health goals.