We’ve all felt the rumble from an empty stomach on a diet. If it seems like the minute you go on a diet, the appetite goes out of control, you’re right! Here’s why: when the body is properly fed at the right time, chemicals signal the brain, telling it when we need to eat and when we are full. That is, unless we eat foods that are bad for us. (Example: foods high in sugars.) These foods amp up the signals the body sends, causing us to feel desperately hungry. This process sets us up for a dietary crash.
The chemical that tells our brain when we are hungry is called Ghrelin. Ghrelin sends hunger messages that are amplified as time between meals increases. The vicious cycle stops when you eat. Leptin is the chemical that counteracts the ghrelin message and signals the brain that you are full.
You can keep leptin levels high by eating more frequent, smaller meals, rather than the three-squares-a-day norm. With leptin levels stabilized, your appetite will automatically regulate, reducing the hunger highs and lows.
Here are some foods to incorporate into your daily diet that will help boost metabolism and decrease appetite by leveling out the chemical messages sent to the brain:
Plan ahead for the times during the day that you tend to overeat. A handful of almonds or dried fruit on the way home from work can level out your hunger messages and turn off the hunger signal before you hit the fridge at home.
Wouldn’t it be nice to rely on your body’s natural mechanisms to regulate your food intake? It’s possible to minimize all that stomach rumbling and the craving that accompanies most diets if you stick to the basics: fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and lean proteins.