Appetite tells us when to eat, and when working well, how much to eat or when to stop. It works well when we eat natural, filling foods at a slow and measured pace. But it doesn't work so well when processed and calorie-dense foods rather than nutrient-dense foods take center stage. Given today's culture and conveniences, in just 10 minutes you could scarf down a variety of foods to satisfy hunger. For example, it's easy to feel full after eating two whole carrots (150 calories) or you could get a similar satisfaction from eating a jumbo-sized box of fries (1,150 calories). Either way, the appetite is satisfied but with a very different calorie and nutrient content.
Meal timing also plays into appetite. Eariler and frequent smaller meals are easier for the body to use as fuel during exercise. It makes sense for most people dieting to lose a weight to 25% of their daily calories in a larger breakfast. This controls appetite and reduces hunger throughout the day, resulting in lower overall calorie intake. Meals every 3-4 hours will also require more energy to digest than the traditional 3 meals per day format. There is also evidence from weight loss studies that suggests that people usually eat less overall when they eat often, so it's a win-win.
Finally, developing a healthy appetite using frequent, small meals should be easy and appetizing. Consider a few high-nutrient, very satisfying appetizers. This list of 5 foods have at least two high-satiety foods that can fill you up on healthy combinations. Eat one about 10 minutes before your next meal to fill up early, or have 2-3 as a meal combination for fullness. These recipes were recetnly published in Triathlete Magazine (See triathletemag.com article by M. Fitzgerald from May 2009).
These all come it at about 150 calories. Try a few!
Spinach & Avocado/Tomato Salad
1 cup Spinach + 1/4 cup Avo's and Tomat's
with 1 tsp olive oil dressing
Crackers & Low-Fat Cheese
4 whole wheat crackers + 1 oz. cheese
1 cup as prepared by Amy's Organics or homemade
Asparagus & Almonds
4 spears steamed + 1/8 Almond slivers and Parm Cheese
Baked Fries with Rosemary
1/2 cup of potato slices baked at 450F for 30 mins
with olive oil spray and rosemary and S&P before baking