Anyone trying to stick to healthy eating habits knows how tempting treats and snacks can be. While there are many purported methods for keeping these cravings at bay, one in particular has garnered a lot of attention lately: appetite suppressant teas.
But what exactly are these teas? What’s in them? And how do they work?
Why We Have Food Cravings
Before getting into the ins and outs of tea, it’s important to understand where the urge to snack comes from. “Cravings can come from many different places. It all depends on what we’ve conditioned ourselves for and what our environments looks like,” says Emily Pierce, a registered dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition, a Philadelphia-based company that offers weight loss and nutrition counseling.
Factors that could entice someone to grab a treat could be anything from genuine hunger to a dip in blood sugar to boredom, Pierce explains. “In the case of boredom, that’s a learned habit that needs to be broken,” she says.
That’s where tea comes in. If an urge to snack isn’t related to hunger, replacing the snacking ritual with tea—namely, a tea that has no sugar or calories—can help a person stick to their healthy food goals. “The act of consuming something can be very satisfying to a person,” Pierce says. “So even if it’s not a sweet or salty treat, tea can certainly help curb that craving.”
Theresa Shank, a registered dietitian and owner of Philly Dietitian in Philadelphia, adds that drinking tea in lieu of giving into a food craving is a step in the right direction, but it might not be enough to squash a craving entirely. “Depending on the strength of the craving, tea may not be the sole solution,” she says. “But it can act as a ‘Plan B,’ or at least a helpful step toward deconditioning a craving.”
6 Best Natural Appetite Suppressant Teas
Before going any further, let’s clarify one thing—the teas discussed below are regular, natural teas without any additives, not the “weight loss” teas often advertised on Instagram. Each type has inherent qualities that are good for curbing the urge to snack and suppressing hunger.
Most people are at least vaguely aware that green tea is “good” for you, but many don’t realize that there is also a lot of science behind this common knowledge. Green tea has been recognized for helping reduce the risk of diseases such as arthritis and diabetes, as well as having some attributes that could reduce a person’s risk of cancer (1). It’s also an ideal choice for people looking to curb their appetite and replace snacks with a healthy beverage.
“Green tea has tons of antioxidants that help fight hunger hormones, which can lead to appetite suppression and weight loss,” notes Georgia Grey, a holistic health coach at Whole Body Healing, based in Denver, Colorado.
Pierce adds that green tea is also rich in phytonutrients.
Mint tea doesn’t necessarily pack in the same health benefits as green tea, but it does help curb your appetite. Studies have shown that mint flavors and aromas suppress hunger (2), sometimes for hours at a time. According to Grey, mint also has the ability to settle your stomach after eating. “It really helps you feel satisfied after a meal,” she says, “which can help prevent you from reaching for a sweet dessert or extra helpings.”
Hibiscus tea is a flavorful, tart brew that is very satisfying to some tea drinkers. Thanks in large part to polyphenols, hibiscus consumption may help promote weight loss and reduce abdominal fat, one study revealed (3). In addition, hibiscus tea can help quench thirst, making it particularly beneficial when consumed in place of sugary drinks!
For people with a sweet tooth, Pierce suggests unsweetened chocolate tea. “If you crave sweets, I recommend drinking a cup of chocolate tea because you get that chocolatey flavor without the sugar and calories,” she says.
Dandelion tea may not necessarily curb hunger, but it is a diuretic (4), which can help ease bloating. It’s also high in potassium, making it ideal for replenishing lost electrolytes.
Pierce says that ginger tea—so long as it’s made with real ginger and not ginger flavoring—may soothe the GI tract and help with digestive issues like mild stomach aches and nausea. “The nice thing about trying teas for stomach issues is that there aren’t any side effects, so if you find that your stomach bothers you from time to time, there’s no reason not to try a stomach-calming tea.”
Pierce adds that fennel tea can have a similar effect as ginger tea.
Appetite Suppressant Tea Recipe
People looking to start a tea habit can certainly find great brews in grocery stores or online, but there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes with curating your own special “anti-snacking” brew. Here’s a simple recipe you can try at home. Play around with the ratios to find your tea sweet spot!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Herbal Tea Precautions
Generally speaking, tea is pretty good for you, but there are some health issues you should keep in mind, especially if you’re drinking several cups per day. Pierce cautions that drinking too much tea can interfere with a person’s ability to absorb nutrients. “If you’re drinking a lot of tea, you might want to keep it separate from meals so that it doesn’t affect iron and other nutrient absorption,” she says.
Pierce also says that anyone taking medications should check with their doctor about possible interactions before starting to drink any sort of herbal tea. “Sometimes, those nice, friendly-seeming herbs can cause major issues interacting with medications, especially if you’re drinking them on a regular basis.”
Beyond interactions and side effects, Shank adds that if you are really, physically hungry (not bored, or snacking out of habit), don’t try to overcome those feelings with a cup of tea. “If you are actually hungry, tea can definitely be used as a supplement, especially given that many teas are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids—but not as a replacement.”