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Hunger Part Two: Why Improving Your Appetite Will Help You Lose Weight

One of the best perks of Chinese Medicine treatments is an increase in appetite. But when I tell my patients this some of them look at me in dread and beg me not to increase their appetite. They are afraid they will gain weight if I increase their appetite. I am here today to debunk these silly myths about hunger and dieting.

Myth #1: People eat too much because they are too hungry.

False: Lots of people eat too much because they don’t have a good sense of hunger. If you get used to eating without hunger signs, you will probably also overeat and not experience full signs. Also lots of people eat for taste, enjoyment and emotional reasons, without much awareness of when the body is satiated.

Myth #2: An increase in hunger will make you more likely to overeat and indulge in the foods you already crave.

False: There are two symptoms that usually go together: low appetite and sugar/carb cravings. They are both tell-tale qi deficiency signs. The body is actually desperate for the hearty sweetness of easily digestible  and energy-sustaining foods like root vegetables and nourishing grains but we get caught up in white flour, sugar and candy instead. If the appetite improves the sugar/carb cravings quiet down and it is much easier to eat a healthy diet.

Myth #3: The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you use.

False: This myth is true in all people with roaring, healthy digestive tracks. For lots of people all they need is another couple of days at the gym to lose weight. But for people already working out, eating healthy and not seeing the weight come off, you need more. You also need more fire and power in your digestive tract. You can count calories all you want but your body is just going to hold onto those calories.

Myth #4: Ice water, lots of salad and fruit will make the weight melt off.

False: NOOOOOOOOOO! If you are on a diet of any kind do not go near salad! If you are having a hard time losing weight you need more fire in the digestive tract and a crisp, raw salad is going to hose down what little fire you had in there. A salad moves you further away from losing weight, not closer. Think cooked greens, lean meats, steamed veggies and room temperature drinking water if you really want to lose weight. And the best way to drop weight fast is to cut dairy, wheat and sugar out for long enough to lose the weight you want. This will help the digestive tract clean itself up and power back to life.

Myth #5: Yogurt builds good gut bacteria.

True/False: Yes and no. The amount of yogurt necessary to really improve gut bacteria would be so cold and dampening to your system that you would never look at yogurt again and you would have no digestive fire to keep the bacteria alive. Adding fermented foods to your diet like sauerkraut and miso is a great way to add flavor and help build good gut flora. Also a high quality probiotic is an easy addition and packs a lot of bacteria into one little pill. Make sure to take your probiotic with food so more bacteria clears the stomach and actually gets to the gut.

Myth #6: Fasting will help jump start a diet.

False: Fasting is complicated and very body dependent. Anyone who doesn’t have much of an appetite will be weakening the qi of the body by fasting. As far as weight loss goes it is the equivalent of blowing your savings right before a big purchase. If you put the body in starvation mode and then put it on a diet it will cling to every bit of food you give it because it is afraid you will starve it again. You may actually gain weight.

It has been my experience that the people who are the most overweight actually eat the least and the people eating enormous meals and frequent snacks don’t think much about their weight. The difference between the two groups is appetite.

When was the last time you actually felt your stomach growl with hunger? For some adults it has been a long time. Stop dieting and exercising your life away and compare how much raw, cold food you are putting into your body and how much warm, moist, cooked, fresh food you are putting into your body. Warming things up may be a very easy fix.

Image credit: piyato / 123RF Stock Photo

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