There are two drives that influence our desire to eat – hunger and appetite. Hunger is our PHYSICAL (biological) drive to eat and is controlled by our internal body mechanisms. So, as we eat and food is digested, our organs send signals to our brain to stop eating. When the nutrient content in the blood rises, the satiety (or full) center is stimulated and we no longer have the drive to seek food. Simple right?
Appetite on the other hand, is our PYSCHOLOGICAL drive to eat and is affected by many external cues such as environment, psychological factors, and social customs. Smell, taste, and sight all influence our appetite. Can you remember a time when you encountered that mouth watering dessert and devoured it even though you were so “full”? That was your appetite speaking – encouraging you to eat even though your “satiety center” said “full”! That gosh darn appetite is what makes healthy eating so difficult right!?
So how do you manage the two drives that control your hunger?
- Know what an estimated recommended calorie range is for you – based on that number use an app (like my fitness pal – which will also set a calorie goal for you) to track your calorie intake for one week. Experiment and see how you feel on a low calorie day and a high calorie day. This is a great way to test your physical hunger cues. Note when you are too hungry or too full.
- Try and create “dynamic” meals! Crunchy, soft, warm, cold, sweet, savory, spicey, etc. These are characteristics of food that will help you feel more satisfied (from an appetite perspective) when combined. Try and satisfy at least two different dynamics in one meal. At the next meal pick different dynamics and when the day is done you’ll have enjoyed lots of different parts about food! You don’t have to be a chef either – examples include watermelon with goat cheese, rice cake with guacamole, cottage cheese with cantaloupe.
- Know your triggers! Is there a certain time of day that your body expects something sweet? Does TV make you crave popcorn? What is your eating routine on the weekends? There may be a habit associated with certain triggers that you need to stop or create a healthier habit. Your body loves to make associations! So make healthy ones!
- Include plenty of protein and fiber in your diet to help with satiety. What does that mean? Lean meats, nuts, eggs, beans, and green leafy veggies… or any (and lots of) veggies for that matter!
- Don’t wait too long to eat! When you combine Hunger + Appetite you generally get RAVENOUS which is very hard to control in a healthy way.
What are some of your favorite “dynamic” foods?