Lack of sleep may have a direct effect on how hungry you feel and how much you eat, says online nutritionists. Short sleep duration has been found to reduce levels of a hormone called leptin, which inhibits hunger, and increases levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. This is one reason why poor sleep may lead to weight gain, too. This is why diet confuse hunger and dehydration can become a factor.

Are you really hungry – or just thirsty? Sometimes thirst can actually be mistaken for hunger. We feel like we’re craving something and interpret this as hunger, when actually all we need is a glass or two of water!

Drinking water between meals also generally us feel fuller and can help to manage appetite. It’s important, however, not to drink lots of water immediately before, during or after a meal: this dilutes the digestive juices and can have a negative impact on our digestion.

Nutritionist Cassandra Barnes says: “When we eat lots of carbohydrates in one sitting, they are absorbed quickly into the body as sugars. This spike of sugars (glucose in particular) in our blood causes a surge of insulin to be released, the hormone that stimulates our cells to take up glucose. As all the sugar is quickly removed from the blood, this triggers hunger and more carbohydrate cravings. You might even wake up with cravings in the night! 

“To stop this happening, it’s best to avoid refined carbohydrates and choose meals containing a moderate amount of unrefined carbohydrates (think sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa) combined with a good portion of protein, such as a piece of fish or chicken, and a big serving of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or other green veg. This will allow those carbohydrates to be digested and absorbed more slowly, keep you full for longer – and won’t cause the surge of insulin that makes your blood sugar drop.”

“It’s been found that women’s appetite and food intake increase during the second half of the menstrual cycle and in the lead up to menstruation,” says Cassandra.

“Increased appetite and especially carbohydrate cravings can also be a symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome for some women. These changes are related to hormone fluctuations, but also may have more specific causes – such as increased sensitivity to insulin (which triggers low blood sugar and thus cravings) or low levels of serotonin (which naturally make us crave carbohydrates and want to eat more).

“To help balance your blood sugar levels and manage cravings, it’s essential to focus on eating protein-rich foods (fish, meat, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds) with each meal, and minimise your intake of processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars.”

Caffeine and alcohol can also have a dire effect on hormone balance, says Cassandra, and so these should be kept to a minimum.

The slightest ‘stressful’ event in your life – such as losing your phone, keys or wallet – can see you reaching for the biscuit tin. But there’s a reason why stress makes us hungry.

But, she warns: “If you don’t fight or flee when your body expects you to, the fat and glucose in your system get deposited as fat – around the middle of your body. Why? Fat targets our belly is because it is close to the liver, where it can quickly be converted back into energy, if needed.”

And Glenville recommends we try to keep blood sugar levels and energy levels stable by eating regularly. “Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. Try not to eat carbohydrates after 6pm.

“This will stop those rollercoaster highs and sugar cravings. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As the blood sugar steadies, so will your mood swings.”

Natural Weight Loss Foods

It isn’t rocket science to find a natural weight loss dietary plan in which you can follow. You don’t have to use any fancy workout machines or something, or use expensive weight loss pills. All you really need is to take a logical approach to the whole weight loss mission and you will be good to go. Mostly, people who are on a diet confuse hunger and dehydration. Note that for you to be able to successfully lose extra pounds; you need to remain hydrated all day long. Drinking sufficient amounts of water throughout the day is therefore very essential. Each time you experience some hunger pangs, start by drinking a glass of water, which will curb your hunger and craving and give you enough time to think of something healthy to put into your mouth.

You might also want to consider eating foods rich in fiber. Just like protein, fiber makes you feel full for long so by the time it travels your digestive track until it is excreted or stored, you will remain full for the better part of the day, so you will actually be avoiding the temptations of overeating or binge eating. Plus, fiber helps facilitate easy bowel movements and significantly reduces the amounts of cholesterol in your body. Foods containing fiber include whole grain foods, veggies, some fruits, peas, beans etc. Thus, if you are on a mission to lose weight, you should make dietary fiber part of your natural weight loss dietary program.

Fruits and vegetables are another great choice for natural weight loss. This is because they contain fiber and water, and as mentioned, water and fiber will make you feel full for long throughout the day. Veggies and fruits are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, all essentials that the body needs for normal functioning. When your body gets all the essential nutrients and minerals, getting rid of excess pounds become a lot easier and simpler, than when it has to struggle to function normally because of a deficiency of some sort. If you feel that you could not be deriving sufficient amounts of nutrients and minerals from your diet, you might want to consider using supplements to compliment your diet.

Another healthy tip for successful weight loss is to ensure you eat protein each day. Protein-rich foods are known to make you feel full for long unlike fats and carbs that get processed by the body very fast, meaning you will feel hungry equally fast. On a positive note, proteins will help maintain your muscle. Note however that you should regulate your intake of protein because eating excessive amounts of the same will lead to excess fat since a surplus amount of it will be converted into fat and stored in the body.