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Healthy Habits That Help to Regulate Appetite

By Erich Schmidt

Eating is just so much fun, with all the flavours and colours. And a lot of people struggle with eating when they are bored. This is due to the increase in fast meals or processed foods that are easy to grab and snack on, as well as an increase in sedentary lifestyle. People tend to eat while they watch tv.

It’s easy for people to quickly eat more than they either wanted to or needed to and their stomach is letting them know it! It can be hard to say no to snacks and certain foods. It’s no fun living by a boring and strict diet, so a better way to manage mindless and unhealthy eating is to create a balance. Allow yourself the occasional treat, but get comfortable with saying no when enough is enough.

Here are some tips on how to adopt healthier eating habits…

Drink More Water

Water makes you feel fuller, maybe not to the same degree as food, but it certainly helps in ways that you may not even have realized. Studies show interesting results about how drinking good amounts of H2O reduces your appetite. In fact, one study found that people who drank seven cups of water per day eat roughly 200 fewer calories than those who consumed less than one glass.

Another study revealed that adults who drank two cups of water directly before meals ate 75 to 90 less calories. You may benefit similarly by drinking about 16-ounces of water four times daily.

Liven Up that Water

Water doesn’t taste like much, right? Some people feel that way and because of it they may not consume nearly as much as they should. But water doesn’t have to be boring to be effective. There are plenty of items from the grocery store that can liven up regular H2O.

Consider adding lemon, lime or orange wedges, fresh mint leaves, fresh grated ginger, cucumber slices, or small chunks of assorted fruits. All those items can be dropped into a large water bottle, preferably a see-through plastic one so you can see what you’ve dropped in and know when to replace it.

Sleep Well

Not getting enough restful sleep means playing a game of yo-yo with your appetite. You may not only feel hungrier, but you could also increase your craving for junk food. Studies have shown that too little sleep prompts excessive eating and weight gain, while getting more sleep cuts the consumption of fats and carbohydrates, leading to weight loss.

And, if you don’t sleep a reasonable amount (7-8 hours a night) you may also be at risk for other health problems including weakened immunity, depression, and heart disease. If you need to eat before bed, try foods that promote sleep including cherries, bananas, milk, jasmine rice, and fortified cereal.

Make Exercise Fun

Have you ever heard someone say “I work out so I can eat”? Any exercise helps moderate weight to some extent, except when you end up taking in more calories than you burned. But, this attitude perpetuates the notion that exercise isn’t done for any reason other than to allow you to gorge afterward.

A Cornell University study illustrates the danger of this kind of thinking. Two groups of adults took a two-kilometre walk before eating lunch or a snack. Those who were told they were on an exercise walk ended up eating 35-percent more chocolate pudding for dessert and 124-percent more M&Ms at snack time than those who were told they’d been on a scenic, fun walk.


The previous slide shows that exercise can be more fun when you don’t think about it as exercise. Also, it’s best not to focus on the notion “now I’m regulating my appetite.” Instead, just play, like when you were a kid and exercise was the last thing on your mind. You simply moved, every day.

Think of dancing, swimming, hiking, biking, skating, roller skating, fast walking, or whatever else floats your boat. Speaking of boats, canoeing and kayaking are good too. Maybe playing an organized sport in a league is your thing and you can’t wait to get out there on the diamond, ice, field, or court.

Eat Consistently

No one likes to think of eating as a scheduled activity, but in some cases that might be the best approach. Your body wants food on a consistent basis. If you don’t give it what it wants, it will affect the nutrients you need for energy and vitality, and it will alter your appetite. It all starts with breakfast, which should ideally be eaten within an hour of waking up.

Even a small breakfast helps: a serving of fruit and some form of protein. As for the rest of the day, ideally you will eat something (a moderate portion) every three or four hours, including lunch, supper, and snacks.

Eat Well

There’s no end to the number of resources that will show you how to eat well. Typically, your success depends on whether or not you choose to heed the advice of nutritional experts. The messages are all pretty much the same: each day you should include a few servings of lean protein, fruits and vegetables (preferably fresh), healthy starches (i.e., whole grain), and “good” fat (preferably plant-based) such as avocados or almonds.

When it comes to treating yourself, you’re best to space out the snacks and eat moderate portions more often. Binging is a sure fire way to add calories.

Caution: Negative Emotions

Many cultures closely associate eating with positive emotions such as love, lust, and joy. It’s when you eat while experiencing negative emotions that you get into trouble, especially if it becomes a habit. Many of us have the tendency to reach for comfort foods (which range significantly in nutritional benefits) when we are feeling sorrow, guilt, and anxiety.

Worse yet is boredom, which is never a good reason to eat. When you are bored, you are typically not doing something that is active and will take your mind off food. And you’re probably not munching on healthy snacks either.

Learn to Deal with Stress

Do you know the old adage “stressed is dessert spelled backwards?” Well, dessert can be avoided (yes, it’s possible) but stress cannot. So, if eating and emotions have come to be too intertwined for you, maybe you need to find another outlet for your feelings. Exercise can help—for instance, running, kickboxing, or hitting a heavy bag lets off lots of steam.

Watching a tearjerker movie may do the trick for you. Remember the tension won’t go away unless you do something to ease it, and that something has to be a safe and positive thing. You already know that beating yourself up doesn’t work.

Take Your Mind Off Food

So, you say you don’t have enough willpower to stop eating once you are full, or you feel as if you are programmed to reach for a bag of chips every time you sit down. There are a lot of things you can do to take your mind off food and your arms away from reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Visit a friend and if necessary to vent, spend time outdoors, read, meditate, or do whatever else takes your energy away from the intensity of your emotions and the inclination to soothe with food.  Above all, be kind to yourself.

Erich Schmidt


There are remarkable stories in every crevice and chasm. My mission is to find them and capture their essence, with clarity, creativity and compassion. Digital and social media help me convey the tales in interesting and interactive ways. I am a broadcast media veteran with nearly 15 years of professional experience, much of that with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Citytv, both in Toronto. I am also a novelist who relishes the challenge of the blank page and injecting grandiosity into common life. Lastly, one person in this world calls me dad. It is the best word ever invented.

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