8 Ways to Curb Your Appetite Throughout the Day

From upping your protein intake to chewing slowly, these tricks can help you control cravings and slice empty calories from your diet.

Next time you think you're hungry, ask yourself if you want to eat this apple. If yes, then you're actually hungry, and not craving something else. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user orangeacid.

Those Girl Scout cookies your coworker’s kid was selling are within arm’s length of your desk. The spicy smells from the Chipotle down the street waft through your window. And you just found a photo of a white chocolate cupcake with truffles on Pinterest that has you ready to sprint to the cupcakery down the street.

With so many delicious temptations surrounding us daily, it’s no wonder we have issues with overeating. To help save you from mindless overconsumption, here are a few simple tips.

1) Start the day with breakfast.
Eating in the morning will not only give you the energy you need to start your day, but it’ll also tame any hunger pangs that might hit you later. That’ll help control the impulsive need to devour those Thin Mints or a giant Chipotle burrito.

2) Do the apple test.
When we want to eat, we sometimes convince ourselves we’re hungry when in reality we’re just experiencing a craving. To determine which one you’re really feeling, first figure out how long it’s been since you last ate. You can also try what local dietitian and personal trainer Rebecca Mohning calls the “apple test”: If there’s an apple right in front of you but you feel like hitting the vending machine for cookies, then what you’re feeling is most likely a craving. 

3) Chew slowly.
We live in a fast-paced world, so we’re accustomed to scarfing our food. But chewing slowly will let you savor your meal and can help you feel fuller. This will allow your brain to “connect with your stomach and say, ‘Okay, you’ve had enough time to eat. You’re full now,'” says Mohning.

4) Choose foods that are low calorie but high in volume.
These include fruits, vegetables, popcorn, whole-grain bread, soups, and salads. You’ll be eating satisfying portions of food and necessary nutrients without overdoing it on the calories.

5) Eat on a regular schedule.
The human stomach breaks down food every three to four hours, so it’s important to consistently reload when your stomach is empty. Eating healthy snacks, such as those aforementioned low-calorie, high-volume foods, between meals is a good way to stabilize your metabolism and blood sugar level.

6) Include lean protein in your meals and snacks.
Protein is also effective in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Think eggs or a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast; string cheese or almonds for a morning snack; chicken or tuna with a salad for lunch; an apple in the afternoon; and cooked brown rice and a lean steak for dinner.

7) Control your portions.
The US Department of Agriculture’s new Choose My Plate site provides the ideal measurements for your daily food consumption. But if you’re at a restaurant that serves gigantic portions, Mohning suggests using your hand as a guide: The protein intake should be the size of your palm; both grains and vegetables should be fist-size; and fruits should be slightly smaller than your fist.

8) Distract yourself.
Occupying your mind with things other than food helps distract you from the yearning to eat more. For some people who are attached to food, the simple process of brewing a cup of hot tea or walking to the cafe for some decaf coffee helps divert attention from food cravings. Now that the weather is getting warmer, a walk outside can also help subdue the need to overeat.