Ir would be nice if we could expect the same result every time we ate food. There are many chemical reactions going on at the same time in our bodies. We can sense some and others we cannot. There are two primary hormones that control our appetite.
Ghrelin is a hormone, secreted in your belly and intestines. When your stomach is empty ghrelin makes you want to eat. And if you ignore the signals, which come every half hour or so, then your belly sends out more ghrelin. “And not just a little bit more,” says Dr. Oz. “A ton more until you’re absolutely famished and have to eat whatever you see.”
This is why deprivation dieting or starvation dieting doesn’t work. Fasting, with the right mindset going in – a designated period of time – or type(s) of foods – makes more sense than depriving yourself of food. Ghrelin is an extremely powerful hormone. It is very difficult to ignore, but you can fool it.
Eat something small and light a half hour or so before you sit down to eat your main meal. This might include nuts, fruit, or even a glass of water with some soluble fiber. I prefer to take two or three tablets of glucomannan if I know I will be eating a lot of pasta when I go out to eat.
Glucomannan is a soluble fiber made from the root of the konjac plant. You can buy it as a dietary supplement. It is used for constipation, diabetes, and high cholesterol. It gives you the feeling of fullness because it expands in the stomach.
When you have no food in your stomach or intestines, your ghrelin levels will rise. A pre-meal shuts down the level of ghrelin intensity since you have some food in the digestion process. Smartly planned, your main meal should be less than you would normally eat.
Your ghrelin levels dissipate when food is being processed in your body. Eating slowly extends your digestion time. Put your fork down after each bite. Taste your food – feel the texture of your food. Chew it completely. Ask yourself how many different tastes and textures are in that bite you are chewing.
Horace Fletcher and Dr. Hendrik Smit popularized the practice of chewing each bite of food at least 33-35 times before swallowing. When food is being processed slowly in your stomach and intestines, it limits the amount of ghrelin that can be made. You are winning the battle against ghrelin.
Leptin, which is a hormone that’s secreted by our bodies’ own fat. As your body is digesting food, the fat being consumed slowly turns on the production of leptin. Leptin controls how full you feel as you eat. There is a satiety level that all of us have – a temporary feeling of fullness about one-third to one-half way through a typical meal. If we stopped, we would be full and sated.
However, we justify our action to continue eating by telling ourselves that it is just a little bit more; or, I don’t want to send that much food back to the kitchen; or, I paid for this meal and I’m not going to leave any. We rationalize eating more when we should stop eating. We have developed habits over our lives and this is a hard one to break.
I was told at a hypnosis seminar about the ‘feeling’ of being full. It comes quickly and leaves quickly. I carefully paid attention to the next few meals to see if I could sense this feeling of fullness. It can and I kept eating because I had to finish the meal in front of me. However, during the next meal, I felt this same slight background sense of fullness and I stopped eating. I can sense this feeling of fullness more accurately today. I still make decisions to continue eating. But, I know my body is trying to tell me that I am full and should stop eating.
Fructose, found in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is harmful in many ways. It blocks leptin from telling your brain that you are full, so you keep eating. Avoid foods rich in high-fructose corn syrup. Unsaturated fats are healthy for you. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to boost your leptin levels – you feel fuller faster. Saturated fats do not boost your leptin levels.
Ghrelin and leptin oppose each other – one wants you to eat and the other wants you to stop eating.
Ghrelin is much more powerful than leptin. Ghrelin also permeates the pleasure center of your brain – the same center that is stimulated by opiates. This is why it is so difficult to have just ‘one’ cookie; or, one of anything. If that first one tasted so good, the next one will taste even better. Knowing ahead of time that your brain will try to get you to have seconds is to be well-armed in fighting the battle of extra calories.