Water is one solution to the hunger pains that can derail a diet or distract you from an activity. Staying hydrated with ordinary water is not just a folk remedy or common sense -- it's a scientifically tested tactic for improving health and controlling weight. Chronic dehydration plagues about 75 percent of Americans, according to the University of Tennessee, and 37 percent of the population has such a weakened thirst response that symptoms of dehydration are routinely mistaken for hunger.
Stick to Your Schedule
Water is an appetite suppressant and can be part of a strategy to control between-meal snacking. Drinking an 8-oz. glass of water will blunt sensations of hunger within minutes. You may find that you are no longer hungry – or no longer as hungry – and can safely wait until regular mealtime to eat.
Thirsty or Hungry?
It's easy to confuse thirst with hunger, especially when you are distracted by an activity or intense task. Purdue University advises students who are studying for exams to drink at least 1 L of water each two hours that they spend exam cramming. The water helps ward off "brain fog," and staying hydrated usually prevents the discomfort that can be mistaken for the munchies. Columbia University Health Services reminds students that water aids in digestion, lowers fluid retention and helps eliminate excess sodium from the body, all healthy results that can contribute to weight control.
Carry a Water Bottle
Kids who are allowed to take water bottles to class are more alert and pay closer attention to the teacher, according to a 2009 study by the University of Southern Mississippi. The students with water bottles drank fewer sodas and had fewer hunger pangs to distract them between breakfast and lunch.
Middle-aged and senior dieters who drink water before meals eat fewer calories at mealtime and lose more weight, according to a 2010 study conducted by Virginia Tech University. Researchers found that dieters who drank two 8-oz. glasses of water before each of the three main meals every day ate 75 to 90 fewer calories and lost more weight than subjects in the study who did not drink the water.
- Purdue University Student Health Center: Eating Strategies for Exam Time
- Natural News; Five Appetite Controlling Foods That Suppress Cravings Without Adding Calories; Mike Adams; Jan. 20, 2005
- University of Tennessee Extension: Did You Know These Important Facts About Water?; June 2008
- University of Southern Mississippi: Hydration Policy for Students
- Columbia University Health Services: Go Ask Alice!; Herbal Teas Tame the Munchies But are They a Healthy Substitute?
- Virginia Tech University; Clinical Trial Confirms Effectiveness of Simple Appetite Control Method; Aug. 23, 2010