How to Crave Healthy Foods: Reroute Your Appetite

How to Crave Healthy Foods: Reroute Your Appetite Portrait of a young sports woman in yellow t-shirt sitting indoors with healthy food and dumbbells on the table

    Do you feel like you’re being controlled by your insatiable cravings? Thanks to research and science, you don’t have to be their slave anymore. You can actually teach your body to crave healthy foods. Here’s how it’s done!

    When it comes to insatiable appetites, it’s not so much a question of your willpower, but the myriad ways in which your body is programmed genetically to deal with your food, lifestyle, and environment. To put it simply, we are all still a bit prehistoric when it comes to our appetite. But the first step in order to crave healthy foods is to be aware of how those brain patterns work.

    First of all, your body is programmed to “level up” your appetite in order to keep you from starving. That happens because in prehistoric times the almost constant hunger motivated humans to survive and keep searching for food. And they didn’t have the luxury to crave healthy foods. The ate whatever edible thing they found.

    These days, we have 24-hour markets, supermarkets, and fast food places. And also fridges to keep all of our food in. Unfortunately, your appetite can be way speedier than the process of real hunger setting in.

    Choose exercise instead of eating less

    According to a study from the UK, exercise makes you less likely to eat more than your body needs. Women who ran on a treadmill for 90 minutes had lower levels of ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, and higher levels of the peptide YY, which suppresses appetite.

    But women who ate less and achieved the same calorie deficit had more ghrelin and less YY in their system. When they were offered a meal, they ate almost 1/3 more than the women who exercised.

    Exercise works up your appetite only if it’s hardcore and for actual sports competitions. It will lower it if you go to yoga or a dance class.

    How to Crave Healthy Foods: Reroute Your Appetite

    Exercise more and your body will learn to eat as much as it needs.

    Losing weight makes you hungrier

    Did you ever wonder why you manage to shed some extra pounds, but it’s much harder to maintain your ideal weight? It’s still because of our ancestors. Our bodies are made to resist starvation and so they will always struggle to bring us back to our previous weight.

    It’s all about leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone. When you slim down, the level of leptin in your system also goes down, which means your hunger increases.

    It all depends on the number of pounds you lose and how gradually it happens. If lose weight slower, you have a higher chance of keeping that weight off your hips.

    Be mindful of your PMS

    Women are inclined to eat more in the week before their periods, thanks to another hormone: progesterone. That explains why you are more prone to bingeing those chips or that ice cream right before you get your period. So try to be aware beforehand and not give into temptations. Here is what you can eat in order to also keep your PMS symptoms to a more manageable level.

    What foods help keep your cravings under control?

    Turn to these items in your time of need: barley, water, eggs, and red pepper. Barley lowers blood sugar and insulin according to a recent Swedish study released this year. It also leads to a rise in hormones which regulate appetite. Drinking plenty of water makes you eat less during your meals. Eggs will help you snack more healthily during the day. According to research done by Purdue University, adding some red pepper in your food may help you crave less fatty, salty, and sweet foods.

    What foods to avoid?

    These are the ones which make your cravings even worse: rice cakes, diet drinks, packaged snacks, and red meat. The first three ones will give you a taste of sugar and then let you wanting more. And beef is rich in iron, which suppresses leptin. This means that your appetite will be left unchecked!

    How to Crave Healthy Foods: Reroute Your Appetite

    Packaged snacks will make your appetite spiral out of control.

    Feed your friendly gut bacteria

    Some of your gut bacteria can help you feel satiated after meals. Like a “good” strain of E. coli which stimulates the release of peptide YY that makes you feel full after a meal, according to a 2015 French study.

    Feed the friendly gut bacteria by eating things they also like: whole foods loaded with fiber, like fruits, veggies, and legumes, but also fermented foods rich in probiotics, like pickles and sauerkraut.

    Don’t forget to catch some ZZZ’s

    Sleeping enough is very important because if you are deprived, you might actually gain weight. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin, making way for unhealthy cravings, while it also increases ghrelin levels, making your appetite hulk out.  So try to sleep as much and as well as possible, only then will you crave healthy foods.

    I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
    What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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