As enjoyable and pleasant as food can be, we all have to take care to avoid overeating. Even I know what the struggle is like when the holidays roll around and the temptation to temporarily abandon healthy eating habits grows.
What about when you feel hungry all the time, though?
This can be frustrating for anyone, and it happens to all of us from time to time. I know I’ve had days where it seems like I just can’t eat enough to feel satisfied. What’s really going on when that happens? The reality is that the cause could be one or many different things.
Let’s take a look at nine of the reasons why your stomach is always rumbling, and what you can do to fight back against the urge to eat.
1. Your Body Craves Protein, and it Wants You to Know
Your hunger could be the result of the fact that your body isn’t receiving the correct nutrients it needs.
Take a look at your diet; how much protein are you getting? If your diet is heavy on the carbs and empty calories, it’s no wonder you feel hungry all the time. Your body is saying “I need something else!”
That something else could be protein, which has a significant effect on the body’s hunger triggers.
Find a healthy source of protein and look at your overall diet to fill in the gaps.
2. But… It Also Craves Fat..
Sometimes what you actually need is some fat.
Wait a second, though – fat? Are we sure about that? Yes!
There are plenty of “good” fats out there, also known as unsaturated fats. These are the kinds found in abundance in healthy snacks like nuts. Avocados are very popular for the same reason. These foods tell your brain it’s time to stop eating and do something else.
3. You Aren’t Drinking Enough Fluids
Yes, believe it or not, but not hydrating yourself sufficiently can lead to feelings of hunger even when your body doesn’t need nutrients right away. When your body craves fluids, it isn’t picky about the source from which they come.
Your body says “I’m hungry!” when it means “I’m thirsty!” because food often has water in it as well.
Sip some fresh water before rushing out for a meal. Your stomach might change its mind.
4. Are You Falling Prey to the Allure of “Stress Eating”?
Ever heard of “stress eating”? We’ve all been there, and I know what it’s like to want to reach for a snack when you’re feeling anxious about work or your home life. Stress can signal danger to your body, even if the stressor is just a difficult task at work.
In turn, your body believes it needs extra energy to fuel your “fight or flight” response, making you hungry. Working on a positive mental attitude and self-care practices can help you cut back on this bad habit.
5. You’re Eating Way Too Fast!
This can tie in with a bunch of other factors, such as the stress we’ve already mentioned. Eating is a complex process that involves many parts of your body, including your brain. When you fill your stomach rapidly, it doesn’t have a chance to signal to your nervous system that it’s satiated.
Instead, you’ll feel hungry even after a huge meal. When you sit down to a meal, eat slowly. Give your stomach time to send those chemical signals that give you a “full” feeling. You’ll find you not only eat less, but you don’t feel hungry again until you need nutrition.
6. Don’t Decide that Skipping a Meal is a Smart Move — it’s Not!
Not much of a morning person? I know that feeling well, but we can’t let it rule our lives. If you’re skipping breakfast or foregoing lunch so you can get more done, your body is going to respond. How? By signalling that you desperately need to eat all the time.
Skipping meals has a host of adverse effects to consider, not just the temptation to visit the drive-through on your way home. Maintaining a regular meal schedule is crucial.
7. You’re Using Food as a Crutch for When You’re Bored
Do you use food as a way to stave off boredom? That can lead to significant overeating. When you do this, you’re training your brain to crave food every time you don’t have something with which to occupy yourself. While it might feel satisfying, you’ll pack on the pounds in no time. Replace it with another fun activity every time you feel like eating because you’re bored. It might take time, but you can retrain your brain.
8. You’ve Taught Your Body to Crave Junky Carbohydrates
While carbs are necessary for everything from basic nutrition to fuelling your exercise sessions, not all carbs are on the same level. Junk food like doughnuts and other sweets wreak havoc on your blood sugar, which in turn can make you feel hungry.
Even white bread and pasta aren’t particularly filling. By the time your body has digested it, you haven’t gained many nutrients. Switch to healthier alternatives and cut back on the junk.
9. Could Your Hunger be a Medicinal Side Effect?
Sometimes hunger can be a side effect of medication our doctors prescribe us. It’s important to take care to investigate the side effects of any drugs you’re taking. If you’re concerned about weight gain, speak to your doctor. Some drugs are meant to stimulate appetite, or it can be a secondary effect. If your medicine is interfering with healthy habits, make an appointment to discuss it with your physician.
Think Before Your Next Snack: Am I Really Hungry?
Next time you have one of those days where you feel hungry all the time, think about this list. Ask yourself as I do: why am I feeling this way? What can I do to fix it?
With a little bit of thoughtful effort, you can usually uncover and remedy the real reason.
Of course, sometimes you do need to eat something — so don’t forget to keep healthy and light snacks around. Instead of heading out for a burger and fries, reach for the nuts and veggies. Not only will you feel better in the long run, but you’ll quiet down those hunger pangs until it’s time for a real meal!