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A Psychologist Reveals How to Lose Weight by Training Your Appetite

Imagine if it were easy to switch from binge-eating junk food to a healthy and nutritious diet. Well, Dr. Helen McCarthy has created an appetite pendulum that can help you with this. And even though it might require a little bit of work from you, if you follow Dr. McCarthy’s advice, it might just become pretty easy to finally start eating more greens and actually enjoy it!

We at Bright Side were curious to find out about this technique. Let’s see how it works!

The appetite pendulum

The appetite pendulum is an 11-point scale that goes from −5 — “extremely hungry” to +5 — “uncomfortably full.” In her book How to Retrain Your Appetite, Helen explains that when we’re not hungry, the pendulum is at 0, it’s neutral. When we get hungry, it goes into the minus section, and into the plus section when we start eating.

Dr. McCarthy believes we shouldn’t start eating until we’re at −3 — “definitely hungry,” and should stop eating at +3 — “just full,” which is essential for a healthy diet. If we follow this rule, we can stop ourselves from overeating, and it can result in a gradual weight loss. Dr. McCarthy says this so-called “appetite training” is actually how she lost weight herself.

Mild hunger is good for you.

Helen says feeling a little bit hungry is actually healthy for you, so you shouldn’t fear it. If you don’t feel mild hunger an hour or so before your next meal, it means your stomach has been digesting your last meal this whole time and has had no time to rest.

When and what you should eat

The problem is, we’ve all probably been taught to eat at certain times and not when we’re really hungry. And even if we wanted to eat whenever our body really needed it, we wouldn’t always be able to find the time or the opportunity to do so. And that’s why a 3-meal day is so convenient.

In this case, it’s important to choose what you eat according to when your next meal is. If there’s just an hour before you go get your lunch, but you’re already very hungry, grab a snack that’s easily digestible, e.g. fruits or vegetables, so that right before lunch, you feel a bit hungry again. If there’s still a lot of time until your next meal, choose something that contains protein, fiber, and fats, e.g. eggs and nuts.

The food will taste better.

In her book, Helen also says that we often choose sweet, salty, and fatty foods because they have a lot of taste that we enjoy, even if we’re not hungry. And that’s why we often overeat. In contrast, if we try to eat, for example, tomatoes on a full stomach, they won’t taste as good.

That’s why, if you train yourself to wait until you’re a little bit hungry just before your meal, healthy food will taste better, as your taste receptors are at their most sensitive when you’re hungry. So the foods that are healthy and that you might have not enjoyed before, will start tasting better to you. As for the junk food with a lot of additives, Dr. McCarthy says it might become less appealing as you will start to notice their “chemical” taste.

Have you ever heard of this technique or tried anything similar? Do you know of any other tricks? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!