Three Tips To Help You Eat Less
(And realign your appetite with your needs)
Do you ever wonder why some people naturally eat the amount they need, whereas others have to rely on willpower?
Why is this and what can you do about it?
In order to answer this question, we first need to look at the systems that regulate appetite.
Your appetite regulation system
There are two systems that regulate your appetite, the homeostatic system and the hedonic system.
The homeostatic system - works to align your food intake with your needs
This system works through chemical messengers. Some of these messengers increase your appetite, whilst others suppress it. It is the balance between these signals that regulates your appetite. If you have more of the messengers that increase appetite, you eat more. If you have more of the messengers that decrease appetite, you eat less.
This system works to keep your body weight constant, so the more excess weight you carry, the more it reduces your appetite. If this system is working properly, as you gain weight, you want to eat less.
So why don’t we all maintain a constant healthy weight?!
The problem is modern diets and lifestyles. Many of the foods available to us today can disrupt this system. Plus if we constantly overeat we become less sensitive to the signals that tell us we’ve had enough. Other aspects of modern lifestyles such as stress, lack of sleep and hormone imbalances can also play havoc with this system.
On top of that, it can be disrupted by the hedonic system.
The hedonic system - makes you want to eat
When this system is triggered, you will eat even if you are not hungry. This system worked well at a time when food might be scarce and processed foods, high in sugar and fat, did not exist. These foods activate this system, triggering you to eat more.
So what can you do to realign your appetite with your needs? To stop overeating without relying on willpower?
Three tips to help you eat less
It’s important to address all the factors that are disrupting your appetite, including stress and hormone imbalances. But here are three things that you can implement right away.
Get enough sleep. For every thirty minutes’ deficit in sleep, you are likely to consume an extra 83 calories per day.
Reduce processed foods. They are often high in sugar, fat and salt which can disrupt your appetite regulation. Plus they contain ingredients that our bodies are not designed to consume. Watch out for monosodium glutamate (MSG) as this can damage appetite regulation in your brain, causing you to eat more.
Eat slowly and mindfully. Avoid distractions while you are eating. (One study found that women ate 15 percent more when they listened to a recorded detective story whilst eating.) Focus on your food, chew well and listen to your body.
Learn more about how to work with your body to lose weight: The Body Effect book, available on Amazon
Bellisle, F. and Dalix, A.M., 2001, ‘Cognitive restraint can be offset by distraction, leading to increased meal intake in women’, Am J Clin Nutr, 74, 2, 197–200.This material may be protected by copyright.
Faulconbridge, L.F. and Hayes, M.R., 2011, ‘Regulation of energy balance and body weight by the brain: a distributed system prone to disruption’, Psychiatr Clin North Am, 34, 4, 733–45.
Galli, G. et al., 2013, ‘Inverse relationship of food and alcohol intake to sleep measures in obesity’, Nutr Diabetes, 3, 1, e58.
Hermanussen, M. et al., 2006, ‘Obesity, voracity, and short stature: the impact of glutamate on the regulation of appetite’, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60, 1, 25–31.
Kim, G.W. et al., 2011, ‘Regulation of appetite to treat obesity’, Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol, 4, 2, 243–59.
Morrison, C.D. and Berthoud, H.R., 2007, ‘Neurobiology of nutrition and obesity’, Nutr Rev, 65, 517–3