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Learning Curve: Appetite Magic

Abracadabra! Make your appetite disappear!

It’s everywhere.  Super food A reduces cravings.  Super pill B keeps you satiated longer.  Super diet trick 3 makes you feel fuller.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Got it.  Eat healthy, exercise, eat less. Blah, blah, blah.  It’s being tried, man!  It’s still not doing the trick!

I get plenty of fiber.  I eat slowly–well let’s call it moderate as compared to hoovering–off a small blue plate.  I am working on the exercise bit.  I drink tea.  Blah, blah, blah.  My intake is changing a bit for the better, but my appetite has not at all.  In other words, I have changed the behavior, but not the root of the cause.  I have been still getting the same amount of hungry the same amount of times per day. Eating less probably and healthier, but still feeling deprived.  Until I knew this magical combination, I was set-up for failure.

1) Mineral Water. Carbs are great for losing weight! Wait–what? Carbonation!  As long as it’s mineral water or sparkling water, drinking before a meal can reduce the amount of food you want to eat.  Regular water doesn’t do anything for me when it comes to appetite, but sparkling water, especially plain, somehow distracts my senses from the craving of aromas and flavors of good cooking.  Plus, in light of having not had a drink (alcohol) for more than 2 months, popping a cap off a Topo Chico or Perrier makes me feel relaxed and fancy while I cook. Where I normally would have a fine ale chosen to complement a beer-hearty meal like chili with cheese or potatoes and sausage, the classy bubbles, inspire a healthier pairing with choices more like white fish and lemon spritzed vegetables.

2) Heat. Working out indoors is great for calorie burn, but I’m usually ravenous afterwards.  On the flip side, taking a walk OUTside during the summer (maybe even after your gym time if you refuse to workout outdoors), or doing some light stretching in the sauna or hot tub if weather doesn’t permit the outdoor experience, can seriously push my appetite off for an hour or two.  If anything at all, I’m ravenous for water and juice post-heated exercise.

3) Skipping Dinner. Ever so often, I skip dinner. (Warning: Skipping more than one meal a day or even one meal per day is NOT recommended.  Skip sparingly.)  I don’t quite set out to do it, but life gets away from me and it happens and it seems to have a similar effect as fasting altogether might.  The next day, I wake up gently hungry and naturally (no alarm).  Starting my day off gently hungry sets a tone for the rest of my day.  My body is accustomed to a feeling of lightness so it wants to maintain it–meaning I eat a slower, smaller, lighter breakfast, without even realizing it, fearing the discomfort of chowing down on something hearty.  This, in turn, sets another tone for the choices I make when my appetite does build during the day.   The best part is the food dreams, though.  Like when you are learning a new language and begin to dream with some measure of fluency, the same happens with appetite choices. Food dreams consist of buffets of gourmet roasted vegetables and delicate fruits.  Though amazing to me like James and the Giant Peach, even in my dreams, I make smaller, lighter choices, fearing a nightmare of heartburn and distended overstuffed belly discomfort.

4) Lots of Bits of Variety. Nutrition experts will teach you that though variety is key over your day, having meals of only a few ingredients is key to prevent overeating.  Supposedly, you are less likely to overeat when you are eating only one thing.  Makes sense maybe, even if you only get bored of eating the one thing, but for me that just means I’ll be eating something different sooner rather than later.  Even if I do eat less of each thing at a time, I’ll feel deprived.  What works? Having a plethora of samples of things gives me nutritional variety and the overwhelming feeling that I cannot eat all of it.  Moving back and forth between 6 olives, 5 cucumber slices, 4 carrot sticks, 3 broccoli florets, a couple blue corn tortilla chips, 1 tiny tub of salsa, half a slice of whole grain bread, and a quarter of fresh almond butter, I max out before I’m even done with all these snacks and without having overdosed on any of it.  My guess is my body realizes how far from deprivation it actually is so it relaxes the appetite as I nibble on all of it.  Where as normally, I could have had a peanut butter sandwich and a large spinach salad and still felt wanting afterwards (even if full) though I had more calories and didn’t get to enjoy my food as much.

Sometimes widespread culture has it wrong.  Well, a lot of the time, if you really think about it. Don’t let “them” tell you what works.  Get in touch with your own needs via trial and error.  The less common choices can be the right choices.

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