Lifestyle Tips for Appetite Control
If you’ve read the blog post Dietary Tips for Appetite Control you’ll have discovered what to eat and what not to eat if you don’t want to feel hungry all the time. There are also some lifestyle measures you can introduce to help regulate the body’s appetite mechanisms:
- Get off your butt – research shows that sitting for long periods of time in which there is very little energy expenditure does not reduce appetite indicating that prolonged sitting may promote excessive energy intake and weight gain (1).
- Exercise – exercise tends to improve appetite control, partly due to its beneficial effects on blood sugar Having stable blood sugar tends to make it easier to tune into your true hunger and can lead to better food choices. It’s important to refuel after exercise so that the calories taken in can be used to repair the muscles and restock depleted glycogen reserves.
- Sleep – short sleep duration and reduced sleep quality may trigger the release of hormones involved in hunger and appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin which may result in increased food intake and snacking (2). Get into good sleep habits – have a relaxing bed time routine and go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Self Regulation through Neurofeedback – uses brain imaging to provide patients moment-to-moment information about their brain activity to learn self-regulation techniques. Neurofeedback has shown some efficacy in targeting the reward and inhibitory systems and helping individuals to overcome environmental triggers and compensatory behaviours associated with overeating or eating disorders (3).
- Stress – can increase appetite as it raises cortisol which can lead to hunger. We are also more likely to comfort eat when stressed as eating has a soothing effect on the nervous system.
- Alcohol – alcohol is more energy dense than carbs or protein at 7kcal per gram. In addition alcohol may increase feelings of hunger.
- Medical Conditions – certain medical conditions may cause you to feel hungrier than usual. These include endocrine disorders such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and Graves’ disease. In addition, anecdotally, there have been some reports of increases in hunger following Covid-19.
- Medications – some medications may also increase feelings of hunger, including steroids and antidepressants.
- Develop other interests – if you are one of those people who thinks about food constantly then you will most likely be making yourself hungry even when you do not have a genuine physical need for Distract yourself by taking up exercise, doing voluntary work or starting a hobby.
Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned that a medical condition is causing you to feel hungry all the time.
See also the blog post What is Hunger? to understand a bit more about the hormones and physiology of hunger and appetite.
- 1. Granados K, Stephens BR, Malin SK, Zderic TW, Hamilton MT, Braun Appetite regulation in response to sitting and energy imbalance. Appl. Physiol. Nutr Med. 2012 Apr;37(2):323-33.
- 2. Gonnissen HK, Hursel R, Rutters F, Martens EA, Westerterp-Plantenga Effects of sleep fragmentation on appetite and related hormone concentrations over 24h in healthy men. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun 8:1-9
- 3. Biol Psychiatry. 2017 May 1; 81(9): e73-e75 Eat to Live or Live to Eat? The Neurobiology of Appetite Regulation. Kinasz K et al.