19 Strategies to Keep Your Appetite Under Control

Stress eating? Tired and hungry? Appetite out of whack? No matter what the source, you can outwit your hunger with these simple strategies.

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The "Bored at Work" Appetite.

The "Bored at Work" Appetite.
Plan your snacks: bring in almonds, walnuts, or unsalted peanuts and keep at your desk. Store fruit and baby carrots or celery sticks in the office fridge.
Avoid the "free food" giveaway table. Better yet, ask your office manager to remove it.
Drink water out of a pretty glass and make sure it's always filled. Add a wedge of lemon, lime, or sliced cucumbers for extra flavor.
Walk when you feel like you're about to give in to your cravings. Often they'll disappear after a brief burst of fresh air.

The "So Tired I'll Eat Anything" Appetite.

The "So Tired I'll Eat Anything" Appetite.
Go natural. Sweet potatoes, berries, mushrooms, leeks, nuts, and dark chocolate all lift your energy and fight fatigue with plant sugars, which is released slowly thanks to their fiber content. Bonus vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals enhance your diet.
Befriend citrus. Their natural fructose energy, vitamin C, flavonoids, and pectin fiber helps you use the plant's sugars slowly and healthfully. They also temper appetite, "trick" you into fat-burning mode, and calm down inflammation.
Switch from starchy carbs like bagels, rice, and pasta that lead to energy crashes and pick healthy options like multi-grain bread, whole wheat bagels, quinoa, Kamut wheat, brown rice, or other whole grains.
Perk up with protein. Protein boosts mental alertness, controls appetite and helps to regulate metabolism. Choose lean chicken, turkey, salmon (loaded with Omega-3s to boost brainpower as well), tofu, or beans.
Wean off the caffeine. Quick caffeine jolts work against natural energy reserves, and wear you down in the long run. Find a healthy energy boost in green tea, with antioxidants and catechins.

The "So Stressed" Appetite.

The "So Stressed" Appetite.
Brush your teeth to distract your brain and mouth from the taste of food. You often won't want to eat after.
Give yourself a "non-smoking break."
Take a walk, a bath, play music, or just watch a funny YouTube video to put you in a better frame of mind.
Don't go more than three hours without eating. This will lead to overeating later. If you have long gaps in your day without meal breaks, plan ahead.
Mini meal your way out of an afternoon slump. Pair one or two ounces of protein and a serving of carbs (fruit, dairy, veggies, whole grains) to keep hunger at bay and restore energy.

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The "I'm PMS-ing!" Appetite.

The "I'm PMS-ing!" Appetite.
Get rid of mood swings with probiotics. Gut-friendly bacteria help correct imbalances that may contribute to mood swings during PMS. Pair yogurt and other fermented dairy products rich in probiotics with prebiotics (fruits, sourdough bread, kombucha tea, barrel-cured sauerkraut or kimchee, anchovies) to help with nutrient absorption.
Avoid salt. You'll diminish bloating and help with fluid balance.
Add potassium-rich foods like bananas, melons, or sweet prunes (bursting with magnesium, fiber, and iron) or try a glass of tomato juice or OJ. Food with fructose and fiber will help you avoid PMS cravings like chocolate.
Befriend fiber.
Bran and whole grains like kamut, oats, and barley with fiber and protein help fight menstrual-cycle sluggishness. Cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber works easily, but don't overdo it: fiber in excess (like 60 grams or so daily) has been shown to block some nutrient absorption.
Work out.
Movement actually helps the uterus relax and can help reduce pain and cramping.
Indulge in chocolate. Just make it dark; it contains significant amounts of magnesium which helps relieve menstrual cramps. Cacao, while relatively high in fat, contains small amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have been recommended to help regulate menstrual cycles. It's also got endorphins, which will make you feel great, regardless of if it's "that time of month."

Source: Nicolette M. Pace, MS, RD.

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