March 24, 2023

“Avoid this by following a simple thumb rule—eat less than you can burn. This may prevent a host of diseases,” says Dr Raja Selvarajan, a Bengaluru-based diabetologist
For representational purposes
Vandana Reddy, a homemaker from Bengaluru, seems to have mastered the art of eating less while maintaining optimal calorific balance.
Despite working out relentlessly, she didn’t see much difference in her weight. That’s when she started the one-meal-a-day diet. “I’ve been eating just one well-balanced meal a day for years. Why feed the body more than it requires? In matters of hunger, following the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. It’s all in the mind, not so much in the body,” says Reddy.

It is common knowledge that the human body can go without food for days. Irrespective of the kind of diet you may be on—a calorie-restricted one, a low carb programme or intermittent fasting—moderation is considered beneficial for the body, as it protects you from obesity, reduces the risk of metabolic and chronic diseases, and boosts cognitive performance.
What about that gnawing feeling of hunger then? In one of his talks, Dr Pradip Jamnadas, founder and medical director of Cardiovascular Interventions Orlando, explains, “First, it is your biochemical craving for dopamine, the happy hormone. Second, it’s your pavlovian reflexes.”
Pavlovian reflexes are a learning system which occurs because of your instinctive responses. Add to that, the theory of hunger that stimulates it—homeostatic hunger or the energy your body needs to carry its daily functioning, and hedonic hunger, your general preoccupation with food and desire to eat for pleasure. 
Jyoti Agarwal Pillai, a Surat-based dietician, seconds that.
Food and mood are intrinsically connected. Several hormones are at play here, especially Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin increases the desire to eat by stimulating neurons to trigger anticipatory signals. Leptin is the satiety hormone, which interacts with the brain cells to regulate food cravings. A disbalance among these leads to irrational hunger.
“Avoid this by following a simple thumb rule—eat less than you can burn. This may prevent a host of diseases,” says Dr Raja Selvarajan, a Bengaluru-based diabetologist. Additionally, to keep hunger in balance, include foods that activate the hormone called Cholecystokinin.
In one of his podcasts on the subject, American neuroscientist Dr Andrew Huberman explains this. “At 
a subconscious level, the gut informs the brain via this hormone, and other mechanisms, that a person has consumed enough calories. The hormone is then released from the tract and has a powerful effect on suppressing that hunger.” 
The good news is that there is a way to activate the release of Cholecystokinin, according to Huberman, “The hormone is stimulated by fatty acids and amino acids. Most studies reflect that Omega-3 fatty acids from foods or supplements stimulate the release of Cholecystokinin, which then reduces or, at least, blunt appetite. This means if one eats macronutrients like amino acids, overeating can be avoided. Many surveys now reveal that like animals, people tend to eat till they have consumed enough Omega-3 and Omega-6.”
It all begins with understanding the interplay and function of hormones. Get started. 
Thought for food
✥ Hormones dictate the biopsychology of hunger. Ghrelin is released from the GI tract and increases the desire to eat by stimulating neurons that increase hunger and anticipatory signals.
✥ Cholecystokinin released by the gut has a powerful effect on reducing appetite. It is governed by neurons and mucosa of the gut microbiome and stimulated by fatty acids (omega-3s), and amino 
acids (glutamine).
✥ Replacing vegetable, grain and seed oils (which are high in Omega-6) with oils such as coconut oil, in addition to butter and ghee is known to correct Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio, which controls hunger via the hormone.
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