Appetite, Excessive

Our bodies are creatures of habit, and if lunchtime is always 12.30, the odds are that we will feel hungry at 12.25. Just like Pavlov’s dog we salivate at the right trigger, such as the jingle on TV for a snack food.

Why Me?

  • Eating carbohydrate-only meals, such as fruit, bread and jam, particularly at breakfast, will cause you to be hungry again within a couple of hours as carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly than protein and fat.
  • An overactive thyroid gland or diabetes can be the cause of an increased appetite. Check with your doctor.
  • Emotional over-eating. Some people get hungry when they are upset, unfortunately the craving is more for chocolate and cake than celery sticks.
  • Over-eating can be a side-effect of some medications.
  • Giving up smoking can result in over-eating.

What To Do


  • Eat small meals containing carbohydrate together with a little protein every two to three hours. See Hypoglycaemia.
  • Chew each mouthful well, at least ten times. Slow down in order to give the stomach time to feel full.
  • Don’t chew gum. Many people chew gum to stop their hunger pangs. Unfortunately, this is sending mixed messages to the digestive system. When we chew, nerve messages send the information that food is on its way to the stomach. The intestines, liver, pancreas and gall-bladder all ready themselves for food. Imagine their surprise when no food emerges, yet the chewing continues. Chewing gum in the long term will lead to digestive disorders: Stop it now! (However, a quick chew after meals is permissible for tooth cavity control.)
  • Drinking more than a glass of fluid with your meal will dilute the digestive juices, and impede the digestive process. Drink 90 minutes after a meal and up to 30 minutes before meals.

Herbs and Supplements

  • Phenylalanine, an amino acid, can curb a voracious appetite. Take one tablet (500 mg) between meals.
  • Pectin, psyllium husks and guar gum are soluble fibres; when eaten before meals, they will swell up in the gut and make you feel full.
  • The mineral chromium is important to control sweet cravings. Take a supplement containing chromium three times daily. See Hypoglycaemia.
  • Taken before meals, the algae supplement spirulina dampens down an enthusiastic appetite.

Other Steps

  • If you find that your appetite is triggered by your mood rather than hunger, it might be useful to investigate what needs you have that need to be fulfilled.
  • Fifteen minutes of light exercise 30 minutes before dinner may help diminish those hunger pangs.

At a glance

Good food
Small meals frequently, small amount of protein with each meal, chew each mouthful well.
Food to avoid
Carbohydrate-only meals. Chewing gum.
Remedies to begin
Soluble fibre before meals (such as pectin, psyllium husks and guar gum), chromium, spirulina, phenylalanine.
Chew your food slowly.
An excessive appetite may reflect unmet emotional needs.