Always feeling hungry? You’re not alone.
I recently got this question from someone: “How do I deal with hunger pangs, especially at night?"
Maybe you're asking similar questions, "why am I always feeling hungry and what can I do to stave off the constant hunger pangs I feel from dawn to dust?"
Keep reading. I'm going to answer your questions in this post.
Why You always Feeling Hungry
If you're in a constant hunger mode, either of these four things could be responsible:
1. You're not eating enough
2. You're eating too much of the wrong food
3. You're eating at the wrong time
4. Your brain is playing pranks on you
Reason 1: You're not Eating Enough
To stave off hunger, you need to eat enough food!
You can't be eating one boiled egg and one cucumber, or an apple and a cup of green tea and call that a meal. That's not enough food for an adult. If you're eating like this, you're setting yourself up for constant hunger.
The solution: Eat enough food to keep you full for longer.
You may be asking, "Esta, how do you know what enough food is for my body?"
Here's your answer: Practice mindfulness when you eat. Don't gulp down the food before your brain has the chance to figure out what you're doing.
When we're full or have enough energy, the body’s appetite-regulating hormones send satiety signal to the brain.
It's when the brain starts to get this feedback that you stop feeling hungry. It takes 20 minutes for this feedback to happen. That's why it's important to eat slowly, so you don't eat more than your body needs.
Pro Tip: Eat slowly. That way your brain can get the satiety signal the appetite-regulating hormones are sending.
Reason 2: You're Eating Too Much of The Wrong foods
All foods are not equal!
At the same number of calories, a bottle of juice and eggs will not provide the same satiety level as a plate of boiled yam and eggs. A breakfast that comprises the right amount of complex carbs, protein and healthy fat will keep you full for longer than a bowl of cereal or a bottle of fruit juice.
As I wrote here, your body will not respond to a glass of orange juice the same way it reacts when you eat the whole orange fruit. Why? Fruit juices (homemade or bought) are made up of concentrated glucose (sugar), water, vitamins and mineral.
When you drink a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, the digestive system doesn’t have to do much work to digest the macronutrient (simple carbohydrates in this case), the sugar will flood your bloodstream in 15-20 minutes and raise your blood glucose level.
This sudden rise in blood glucose is not a good thing if one is not in need of quick energy. When this rise happens, the human body in its wisdom releases insulin to clear the excess glucose from the bloodstream and store it in the liver and muscles as glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates).
When you make simple and highly processed carbohydrates the backbone of your nutrition, you’re setting yourself up for constant hunger.
Simple and highly processed carbohydrates are easily digestible. They cause a quick energy spike that’s followed by an energy slump. Meals that have the right amount of healthy fat, protein and complex carbs prevent the sudden spike and drop in energy. The result is a full feeling for a longer timer.
Start paying attention to what you eat. Do you have enough protein, healthy fat and complex carbs on your plate or it's just a plate of sugar, white flour and bad fat?
Pro Tip: Pay attention to what you eat. It’s not just about the quantity of your food, the quality of your food matters too.
Reason 3: You're Eating At The Wrong Time
When is the right time to eat?
The right time to is when you're feeling hungry — not when you're craving, bored, tired, stressed, angry or happy. In other words, we don't eat because the food is available, we eat because we're hungry.
Of course, there'll be times when you eat because the food is available. Those times should be an exception, not the norm.
An irregular eating pattern throws our appetite-regulating hormones out of balance. This is terrible for our biology because it causes hormonal fluctuation.
What we want is regulation, not a fluctuation.
The goal is to leave 4-5 hours in-between meals to allow your digestive system to function correctly as well as keep the appetite-regulating hormones levels normalised.
Each meal should be designed to hold you until the next. Avoid snacking between meals as this can disrupt the normal functioning of leptin, insulin (two of the appetite-regulating hormones), and you may end up eating more calories than your body needs.
Pro Tip: Use the hunger scale to gauge your hunger level
Reason 4: Your Brain is Playing Pranks on You
Hunger is that you?
True physiological hunger should be the reason for eating. However, that isn't always the case. Often, we don't eat because we're physically hungry, we eat because of hedonic hunger.
Hedonic hunger is "the drive to eat to obtain pleasure in the absence of an energy deficit. Although hunger may arise from energy or nutrient deficits, as would be expected in the set-point theories of hunger and eating, hunger may arise more commonly from the anticipated pleasure of eating. The presence of desirable food or the mere anticipation of it makes one hungry. Such hedonistic eating overrides the body's ability to regulate consumption with satiety." (Source: Wikipedia).
If you suspect hedonic hunger to be the driving force behind your eating habit, you need to become aware of the environmental cues that trigger the hunger.
Becoming aware of the environmental cues is the first step in breaking the habit. The next step is to remove the cues from your environment. If that's not possible, then you must limit your exposure to those triggers.
You can't always use willpower in the face of repeated exposures to temptation. When it comes to eliminating your need to use willpower, your environment can be your greatest ally or worst enemy. So, get rid of the cues, and you won't need to use willpower.
Pro Tip: Limit your exposure to sight and smell of foods that trigger your hedonic hunger. As the saying goes, "out of sight is out of mind."
As humans, we need to eat to survive and thrive on this planet.
Therefore, knowing what to eat and how much to eat is not only beneficial to your waistlines, it's also helpful to your overall health and well-being.
There's another thing that could be responsible for your constant hunger. That is Emotional Eating.
For most people, food craving is an emotional thing. The way they deal with stress and life's issues is to turn to food for comfort. While men tend to turn to sex and alcohol to find a temporary escape from stressors, women, on the other hand, tend to turn to food for comfort.
The human body is always seeking homeostasis. Eating high-carbohydrates foods causes the brain to produce more serotonin, the feel-good hormone. This is the main reason you crave sweet things when you're stressed or unhappy. It's your body doing all it can to bring balance to your life.
However, you must realise that what your body wants and needs is feel good, not food. Food is just one of the ways to cope with the problem, but we know it's not the best way.
More effective strategies like breathing, relaxation, prayer and meditation can give you better results without adding inches to your waistline.
If You Need Help
If you need more help your food and nutrition, I can help you.
My 21-21 Challenge program comes with an easy to follow the nutrition plan.
About 21-21 Challenge
21-21 Challenge is a 21 days weight loss program designed to help you get lighter and fitter in 21 days.
The Christmas Edition is starting soon. Click here to learn more if you're are a woman who's interested in getting lighter and fitter in time for Christmas.