8 Reasons why you are always feeling hungry
N.B. This blog is also available in Finnish and you’ll find it here
Feeling that you’re hungry all the time? There are certain life situations where appetite grows naturally and some people really have a faster metabolism and they need more food than others. But if you aren’t pregnant, prescribed on a medication (antidepressants, birth control pills, beta-blockers, anti-seizure and migraine meds for example), working out a lot, or just bored, you might want to check this list about things that may cause hunger feelings.
You are thirsty. Sometimes our brain mixes up hunger and thirst signals and instead of reaching towards the water bottle, you head straight to the fridge. It’s actually quite common to make this mistake and according to the studies over 60% of people does that automatically without even thinking about it. So, next time you are feeling hungry, drink big glass of water and wait for 15 to 20 minutes before snacking anything and see if the hunger subsides.
You’re not getting enough sleep or you’re a restless sleeper. Too little and poor-quality sleep will affect on certain hormones, that stimulates hunger and the feeling of fullness. And you already know the rest; you’ll find yourself from the kitchen or searching through your office snack stash many times a day, and those quick fix snacks aren’t the healthiest ones… The only cure for this is to sleep more and your hormone levels will get back to normal.
You eat too fast. When you inhale your meal in minutes your stomach might be full, but the fullness signal hasn’t reached your brain yet. This signal takes at least 20 minutes to get into your brain so if you’re a fast eater, you’ll most likely end up eating more than you need or should. So, slow down, chat a little with someone, sip water in between forkfuls and give your stomach and brain a little time to decide whether you’ve had enough already.
You are eating wrong kind of carbs. Have you ever noticed how one cookie makes you want to eat more of them? That’s how starchy carbs and brain work together. Simple carbs (like the ones in white bread, white rice, cookies and crackers, cereals and chips), that are nutritionally-deficient and lacking fiber will spike your blood sugar levels quickly, then leave them crashing soon after. That dropping blood sugar level sends the hunger signal to your brain and you’re already on your way back to kitchen. Instead of bowl of cereals for breakfast and filled sandwich and bag of chips for lunch, reach for whole grain versions of bread or oats in the morning and choose quinoa or bulgur with a bunch of veggies for lunch. Those are more filling and they contain more nutrients, so no need for extra trips to the fridge!
You don’t get enough protein and healthy fats. If you always choose low-fat this and fat-free that and your meals are lacking proteins it’s no wonder you’re feeling hungry soon after eating. So called healthy, un-saturated fats will slow stomach emptying and keep the hunger at bay (they are also brain-boosting!), so add some oils, nuts, seeds and avocado for example into every meal.
Also, protein takes a longer time to digest, which means it promotes feelings of fullness better than for example carbs from croissant. Sprinkle chia seeds on top of your breakfast bowl, dip veggie sticks in hummus and top apple slices with peanut butter. The sources of protein are endless! Just make sure to eat some protein in every meal.
You are counting calories. Nutrients are the ones that satiate your hunger, not calories. It’s quite common that when you’re trying to lose weight, you choose your meal based on its calories instead of checking where those (low) calories come from. Unfortunately, low-calorie options usually lack fiber, proteins and healthy fats and you’ll end up feeling hungry faster than you even realise it. So choose always balanced meal which might be a little bit higher in calories, but the one that includes more nutrients and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
You drink your meal. Smoothies and juicing are really big hits right now, but the truth is that your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way as solid ones. Also, when you drink for example a smoothie, it’s already “chopped down” so your body doesn’t need to work that much when digesting and it goes faster through your body. I definitely love my smoothies every day and for some people liquid meals are more than ok, but if you’re a person who’s always hungry, I suggest you think twice when choosing your meal. Or make your smoothies thicker, sprinkle some seeds or oats on top of it and use spoon!
You’ve been stressed out for a long time. A little stress is actually good for all of us, but when it becomes long-lasting, your body starts to produce certain hormones, that trick your body. Because of these hormones, your body thinks it’s under an attack and in need of energy and you start feeling hungry. You might not always be able to control exactly what’s happening in your life, but you can every now and then take couple of minutes to slow down a little, and do exactly what makes you relax. And if relaxing isn’t the option right now, you’re still in charge of what you put into your mouth.