There are many things that can contribute to overeating, from stress and the pressure of demands to hormones, lack of sleep and more. All of those things can add up to going crazy at the buffet, or gorging on a gallon of ice cream at home. In the short term, it can make you feel uncomfortably full, but do this too often, and there’s little doubt that you’ll pack on the pounds, which not only means having to buy larger size clothing, but a higher risk of some serious health issues, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you’re caught up in a cycle of overeating, it can often take a toll on your mental health too, with all of that guilt and negative self-talk that frequently comes with it.

With so many overeaters in America, you definitely aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over one-third of adults are obese, and when you add up the number of those who are overweight too, that increases the already disturbing number to nearly three-quarters of adults in the U.S.

If you’re tempted to turn to some kind of pill to curb your appetite, that can come with some very serious consequences that far outweigh any benefit that you might get from losing weight, including everything from addiction and relationship issues to anxiety, stroke, severe headaches and heart problems.

While that all sounds rather disheartening, the good news is that there are natural ways to stop overeating, so you can maintain an ideal weight, or lose those pounds you’re struggling with.

1. Consume Foods & Spices That Are Natural Appetite Suppressants

While diet pills are always a bad idea, there are natural appetite suppressants that come in the form of foods that can help you curb cravings without the side effects. Use more spices when cooking up your meals, as many not only contain antioxidants but can boost your metabolism and encourage your body to burn fat, while curbing your appetite at the same time. That includes red pepper, according to a study published in the 1999 British Journal of Nutrition.  Study participants who included red pepper at breakfast were less likely to desire snacks before lunch, while consuming red pepper as part of a snack between breakfast and lunch, led them to consume fewer calories at lunchtime. Other great spices to use liberally include black pepper, cinnamon,and ginger. Consuming more high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, chia seeds and flaxseeds, can help you feel fuller so that you’re less likely to overeat too.

2. Use Essential Oils

In addition to decreasing your appetite through foods, there are some essential oils that can help decrease your appetite due to its nutrients and/or hormone regulation. That includes grapefruit essential oil, which has been extensively studied and found to be beneficial due to a number of factors, including antioxidants, volatile oils and enzymes are known to reduce the appetite, curb cravings and mildly boost energy. The oil has an effect on olfactory stimulation, which is how a smell affects the central nervous system. It’s been found in studies to positively alter appetite regulation as well as fat metabolism and autonomic nerve signaling. Some people find that its clean scent is particularly helpful for reducing sweet cravings, and uplifts the mood too, reducing emotional eating.

To use grapefruit essential oil to help curb your appetite and cravings, add a few drops to a diffuser, or blend a drop or two into a carrier oil like coconut or sweet almond oil and massage it into your skin.

Other essential oils that can help reduce appetite include lemon, bergamot, juniper berry, lemongrass, rosemary, and cinnamon.

3. Drink More Water

If you don’t drink enough water and allow yourself to become dehydrated, you’re setting yourself up for a slower metabolism. When you wake up in the morning, you’re already dehydrated as you haven’t had any fluids for hours, and your metabolic function slows during sleep. One of the best ways to combat this is to drink water soon after waking, which will give you more energy, and your appetite won’t be as big either. Research has shown that drinking a glass of water before a meal can also help keep you from eating too much. A study in the journal Obesity found that those who drink water before each meal ultimately consumed fewer calories during those meals, and it left them feeling fuller too, as compared to those who didn’t drink water beforehand. That’s because drinking before right before eating primes receptors in the stomach to trigger fullness signals to the brain – before you take that first bite. Hydrating also helps to reduce the likelihood of overeating due to thirst.

4. Practice Stress Relief

Chronic stress affects one’s health in multiple ways, and it can also trigger overeating. While it may be easier said than done, reducing stress can be an important part of curbing your appetite as it’s one of the best ways to lower cortisol, a hormone that plays a big part in appetite as well as belly fat. Consider incorporating regular stress relief practices into your day, like practicing mindfulness, which simply means to focus on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. One way to do this is to concentrate on your breath, counting each one slowly as you inhale and exhale.

Hobbies like quilting, knitting, instrument playing, etc. can be a great way to relax and bust stress, and activities like yoga, meditation, journaling, exercise and even laughing with friends, have all been proven to help manage stress as well.

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