Are You Making Yourself More Hungry?

Are you hungry all the time? These eating behaviors may be causing your insatiable desire for food.

By Reader's Digest Editors
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1. Some herbs and spices

While these herb and spices are great for your health, consuming them with meals is best since they can stimulate appetite.

Mustard
Adding mustard to your food increases the flow of saliva and digestive juices -- natural ways to stimulate appetite when you've been under the weather and aren't eating as well as you should.

Turmeric
Turmeric is the bright amber-colored spice that gives curry powder its characteristic yellow hue, and is commonly used in traditional Indian medicine to stimulate the appetite and as a digestive aid.

Ginger
Ginger is widely used to alleviate morning sickness. It is known to reduce nausea due to pregnancy but it is less certain that ginger can treat vomiting. Ginger is also used to stimulate the appetite and reduce abdominal cramps. Topically, it may relieve pain and swelling.

Parsley
Parsley is said to stimulate the appetite and to be good for rheumatism.

Nature's Medicines, Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements, Food Cures, Super Salads (Reader's Digest Association Books)

2. Not eating enough protein

Protein helps persuade your brain and stomach that they're well nourished and satisfied; skimp on it and your hunger might lead you right to a bag of potato chips, says holistic-medicine pioneer Mark Hyman, MD. In a recent study, volunteers whose daily protein consumption fell below 15 percent of their total calories were far hungrier after breakfast and ate more snacks throughout the day than those whose protein levels exceeded that amount. The extra nibbling put them on track to gain more than two pounds a month had they kept it up. An important takeaway: Don't save your protein for dinner, Dr. Hyman says: "One trick is to eat chia seeds (available in health food stores) in the morning. They're very high in protein, have a very low glycemic load, and have lots of good omega-3 fats." Soak them in water for a few minutes, and you get a tapioca-pudding-like treat, he says. "I love to add blueberries to mine. It's a great breakfast." Other prevalent (and portable) high-protein options: hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt. Dr. Mark Hyman is the author of The Blood Sugar Solution and the innovator of the whole-systems medicine approach known as functional medicine. -- Reader's Digest February 2012

3. A drink before dinner

It's a commonly held view that a small drink before a meal – a glass of dry white wine or small sherry – may stimulate the appetite. Most traditional apéritifs are slightly bitter and contain a relatively low percentage of alcohol. Apéritifs supposedly 'open' the digestive system and stimulate the appetite before a meal. The small amount of alcohol gets acid production started so that the stomach is ready to digest food straight away. However, there's no real evidence that one particular type of alcoholic drink is any better than another as an appetite stimulant.

Your Body, Your Health (Reader's Digest Association Books)

4. High fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a cheap fructose and glucose confection derived from cornstarch is one of the most insidious added sweeteners. It is considered a major culprit in America's obesity epidemic. Unlike traditional sugars, HFCS doesn't turn on appetite-suppressing insulin and leptin so it may actually increase rather than satisfy hunger, making it a dangerous additive.

Long Life Health Plan (Reader's Digest Association Books)

5. Sugar and salt combo

Over the last several decades, food producers have discovered that we all have a seemingly insatiable desire for sugar and salt. They've responded by stuffing our food with mind-boggling and heart-wrecking amounts of these substances. We live in a world where bottled pasta sauce can have more sugar per serving than vanilla ice cream. It's possible to get more salt from breakfast cereals than we do from French fries. This full-scale assault on our taste buds has the dangerous side effect of making us want more and more food. That's because processed foods place us on a flavor seesaw: We eat something terrifically sweet, and almost immediately we want to counter it with something salty. Part of what's happening is that sugar and salt are both distinct appetite stimulants; the scientific term for this is sensory specific satiety. What that means is that you can feel completely full from eating something salty, yet your sweet-related hunger sensors can still be craving satisfaction. (Sensory specific satiety helps explain how we're able to magically have room for dessert after a big meal). Healthy Heart Miracle Diet (Reader's Digest Association Books)

6. Diet foods

We already know that many low-fat foods contain more sugar, carbs and sodium to enhance flavor, but new preliminary research indicates that diet foods may trigger overeating as well. A study in the journal Nutrition suggests that artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks may stimulate appetite. Although more research is required, you may be better off opting for a smaller portion of the regular version. Compare nutrition labels: if kilojoules are equal, and the regular version is low in saturated fats, stick with it. Keep in mind we need certain nutrients and healthy fats. Calcium in dairy aids weight loss, for instance, and omega-3 boosts heart health, says dietitian Carolanne Nelson. "That's why I always tell people to pick the regular salad dressing instead of low-fat dressing. It contains healthy oil such as olive or canola." 30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy Heart (Reader's Digest Association Books)

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