Are you always hungry?
You enjoyed a wonderful gourmet meal which included starters, a good sized main dish that didn’t require a zoom lens to fill up your plate and you finished with a satisfying palate cleanser. You definitely got your money’s worth and had no thoughts of eating further when you left the table.
Low and behold, a mere 60 minutes later and you start to feel that void in your stomach. You know you’re not ready to eat but the feeling just continues to grow. Your mind keeps returning back to thoughts of food. You start to think about how good it would be to eat your favorite snack or how about a whole meal.
How can you be hungry? Why are you hungry? Let’s look under the hood, or the belly, and examine the reasons so many of us are seemingly always hungry. We might even be able to satisfy this hunger without food.
While it’s actually good to feel actual hunger – it means you have effectively used your energy stores and would do well with more soon – many times this feeling isn’t this kind of hunger. It could be a craving or a mistaken sensation. Perhaps, it’s actual hunger but is generated for not the reasons we want.
Hunger is a signal of low energy but if your energy is low it doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t eaten enough.
Ten Reasons You Might Be Always Hungry
- Do You Even Chew, Bro? If you race through your meals, you won’t properly digest a lot of your food. Chewing actually stimulates digestive enzymes in the saliva in your mouth. This increases absorption which results in better nutrient gains. It also aids in an increase in the hormone leptin which lets you know that you are satisfied and full. If you wolf down your food, you brain doesn’t have the chance to recognize it’s getting what it needs and your body doesn’t get what it needs. Result: you’re always hungry. Think about a pie eating contests. Those guys eat so fast for a few reasons. Yes, they are racing against the clock but also, if they slowed down and chewed well, they would never be able to keep going.
- Cheers To This, Cheers To That Drinking alcohol results in greater hunger and increased the likelihood of eating even when you’re not hungry. It is very common for people under the influence to be drawn to a plate of nachos or a slice of pizza like a moth is attracted to a flame. I’m confident that you can recall at least one time you went for a late night “meal” when you had a few drinks under your belt. If you haven’t, good for you. Feel like doing some research, go to a club district and wander into a McDonald’s or some other similar establishment around club closing time. Spoiler: there’s a lot of “always hungry” people around for 2 am. This actually has a lot to do with being dehydrated from the alcohol and craving water but choosing food instead.
- You’re A Werewolf If you are staying up late or getting poor sleep, then your hormonal balances are off and you’ll be craving food for energy – usually not very healthy food. Poor sleep habits result in a rise of ghrelin. This hormone encourages you to want to eat more. In fact, I’m submitting a request to the world medical terminology society (let me know if you actually find this organization) to rename ghrelin, the “always hungry hormone”. It could be called AHH for ease of use and when spoken would open the mouth, allowing more food to go in. So stop howling at the moon and you won’t be hungry for sheep all day.
- Protein Shmo-tein Some people are just plain scared of protein. I mean not like horror movie scared but they have concerns for their kidneys or worry about getting too muscular or perhaps, it’s simply that they regularly choose the soft, gooey, quickly pleasurable delight of some warm grainy carbs. If your protein intake is too low, your not getting what you need to sustain healthy cells and body functions. You’ll crave more. Protein will also aid in feeling fuller for longer than mainly eating simple carbs.
- IF You Know IF stands for intermittent fasting and while I find it an excellent tool for myself to lose weight and stay lean as well as maintain energy, focus, and mood, it doesn’t always work for everyone. Even for myself, I have to watch out when I’ve fasted for awhile and then start eating. Food tastes so good and my hunger is real which can lead to devouring too much. You don’t need to fast to experience this. If you are pushing long intervals between meals, hunger can creep up and keep you thinking about one thing – food. Eat the foods that will keep you energized for a long time and recognize when higher activity levels, including brain activity, might demand more nutrients.
- The Art Gallery Of Food From billboards to TV ads, from Instagram to the smells pumped out of bakeries and fast food joints, we are bombarded by images, scents and temptations that drive a single thought into our head – eat more now. If you are always surrounded by the suggestion of food, you are always hungry. Recognize this and consciously decide what to expose yourself to and how you truly want to deal with. I remember a cartoon with Bugs Bunny, I think. He smells carrots in his sleep and floats out of bed still asleep and glides through the air, led by his nose to the carrots. It was a trap! Watch out, Bugs!
- Where’s That Tiger No, you are not being chased by a tiger nor do you have to fight for your food…or, at least, I hope not. Still, many of us have a lot of stress in our lives. Constant stress increases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Sustained elevation of these hormones results in greater energy depletion. I mean if you were running for your life or hunting wooly mammoths for extensive periods, you’d be darn hungry afterward. More stress, more hunger. Also, more stress, less serotonin in the brain. Often foods can boost serotonin. If you are always stressed, expect to be always hungry. Relax and manage that stress effectively.
- Carb-Up, Carb-Down “Bet you can’t just eat one” is a marketing slogan from Lay’s but it is at the base of all starchy simple carbohydrates. These foods trigger pleasure in the brain with a dopamine release and drive you to eat more. They also spike blood sugar which goes up just as fast as it comes down, leaving you desperate for another hit of that crack…err..carb treat. The food scientists know this. The processed and packaged foods that come out of the wonderful companies who prize profits and growth over health and sustainability engineer their products to leverage these reactions as much as possible. When you are part of the experiment, expect the “always hungry” reaction as the result of a well-planned company strategy. Choose wisely.
- What’s The Skinny On That If you are still entranced by the questionable but long promoted science of low-fat being a healthy approach to nutrition then it’s time to get down on where it’s f-at! Dietary fat is phat – I guess I just dated myself. Healthy fats like avocados, egg yolks, olive oil, butter and quality animal fat are super good for your health and keep you satiated. Good fat improves your hormones, your skin, your hair, your brain and can actually help you lose weight. If you are choosing low-fat most of the time, you’ll miss out on the good but also never have the same feeling of being satisfied. You guessed it… always hungry.
- Camel Training You might actually not be always hungry but always thirsty. I don’t think they are remaking Lawrence of Arabia anytime soon and I hate to break it to you but you probably won’t get cast as camel if they do. So, stop practicing and drink water regularly. Often what we perceive as hunger is actually being dehydrated. The hypothalamus area of the brain registers thirst and hunger, making it easy to confuse dehydration for food cravings. Drink some water to start your day. Stay on top of it and your cravings could easily and cost effectively be reduced.
If you want to not eat too much, so you don’t increase your waistline (which can lead to bigger issues) but you want to enjoy food, eat well and have enough energy, it’s time to move forward with a good strategy.
The Not Always Hungry PlayBook
Let’s quickly sum up an action plan:
Stay fluid – Drink water and stay hydrated. When you feel hungry, first drink water and see how it goes after 30 minutes or so.
Fatten Up – Eat more healthy fats as listed above and don’t be scared, fat doesn’t make your fat. It makes you healthy and full and happy and beautiful. Yay fat! While you are at it, reduce sugar, starchy simple carbs and enjoy some more good protein.
Mind What Matters – Be mindful. Eat slower, chew more, and recognize what is hunger and what is something else. Deal with stress through meditation, yoga, walks in nature, exercise, music or whatever makes you happy.
Balance Well – Sleep well, enough and at the right times. Relax without alcohol or when you drink do so in moderation and stay hydrated. Cut out media that constantly pushes you to consume food or anything really. Spend more time creating, you’ll be happier and more ful-FILLED with life, so you won’t be always hungry.
Tha’s a wrap…no, not a sandwich wrap! Stop thinking about food. All this writing has made me hungry. I’m going to grab a bite 😉 while you comment below and let me know if you have any other tips to avoid alway being hungry.