Let’s face it, a lot of us struggle with maintaining the ideal body weight that our skeletal frames require for optimal functionality. To be blunt, many of us in my native Nigeria and my adopted home – The United States of America – are overweight. In a majority of cases, the reason why a fair bit of us are overweight boils down to a love of food, and honestly, it isn’t hard to see why because food is fantastic. In addition to being the primary source from which we humans get necessary nutrition, it is also often pleasurable to eat food provided it was prepared by a halfway decent chef. Taking that into consideration, the love of food is actually a good thing. Can you imagine what it would be like if we hated food but needed it to survive? Life would probably be pretty miserable in my humble opinion.
Although eating food is necessary for all of us to survive, eating too much of it too often has its obvious negative drawbacks such as ill health and being perpetually exhausted because of the excess weight we may be carrying around. Hmmm… so how then do we eat the right amount of food for pleasure and sustenance, while successfully controlling the urge to overeat and subsequently gain too much weight. There are a lot of schools of thought in regards to this topic and I cannot claim to understand them all. That being said, the points below constitute my philosophy on appetite control.
Eat and drink more
When you think you’re hungry, drink water first
Make green smoothies your snack of choice
Remind yourself it will still taste good tomorrow
Hang out/live with people who will call you on your excessive eating
Sounds crazy, I know… but if you keep reading, I think you’ll come to see the sense behind this train of thought. The truth is simple… when you are hungry, you should eat food. The only caveat here is you have to restrict yourself to the right kind of food. I have a female friend who embodies this point perfectly… we’ll give her the pseudonym Pamela to respect her privacy. Pamela noticed that her metabolism had started to slow down as it does for most of us post 30. Although she maintained the same appetite for food as she’d always had, her body had stopped burning it off at the same fast clip that it did in her 20’s. When Pamela realized this, she changed her diet to one rich in vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds. She’d still eat as much as she wanted but instead of snacking on cereal bars at work for instance, she brought a giant bag of baby carrots and toasted almonds to work each week and turned those into her snacks of choice. She replaced her lifelong habit of pounding can after can of mountain dew with pounding bottle after bottle of sugar free flavored water. Needless to say, the excess weight melted off Pamela in about half a year.
Sometimes, your mind can play tricks on you in the sense that if you’ve been in the habit of overeating, it can sometimes make you think that thirst = hunger. As a rule of thumb when you feel hungry, make it a habit to drink a full 20 – 24 ounces of water first. If the feeling of hunger still persists, then you should feel free to eat to satisfy it… just make sure you’re eating the right kind of food for the most part.
Green smoothies are easy to make and they taste good if you make them using the fruits and vegetables you like best. So instead of reaching for the bag of potato crisps when you need a snack, reach for your blender and whip up a smoothie. It only takes ~7 minutes to make, and ~5 minutes to clean up.
You’re up late watching TV and those snickers ice cream bars in the fridge are calling your name and urging you to indulge. It is hard to turn down temptation like this but I find that if you remind yourself that it will still taste good tomorrow, you can more easily resist such urges.
Many of us have friends that are blunt by nature… they don’t mince words. While this personality trait can often bruise egos unnecessarily, this is one instance in which hearing the blatant truth from someone you respect can actually be a net positive. Your ego may get a little hurt when your talkative friend indignantly asks you “are you still hungry? Or are you just stuffing your face because it tastes good?”. That being said, it will make you think twice about overeating in the future which is positive.
Again, I want to re-iterate that going the brute force route of willfully starving yourself never really works in the long term. The real key is to make better quality food choices more often. As nature would have it, it turns out that most of the foods that are really good for us are usually pretty low in calories. If you stick to those kind of foods except for the odd weekend bender, you should be just fine. Till next time folks, from all of us here at chubaoyolu.org, take care of yourselves and each other.
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.
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