In our day to day lives it seems like we are constantly being bombarded by several different things at once, all vying to keep our attention. In our world of overworked employees and under-rested parents there seems to be a common thread that runs among us: hunger! No matter what time of the day it always seems like we are jonesing for that next meal. For some people this hunger goes against their weight loss plans and for others it makes them feel like they need to go into some sort of food addiction treatment. Yet, what if we told you that there could be other more bizarre reasons for your hunger pains? Keep on reading to find out!
Prevalence of Food Porn
Int he digital age that we are living in we are hit with images more often than we ever have been. No matter where we look on our phones or computers we are destined to see some HD picture that is designed to capture our attention. A huge part of the internet, not surprisingly, is dedicated to sharing pictures of their delicious food. Add in people who love to Instagram fancy dinners and now we are always seeing something yummy. Not only are we socially conditioning ourselves to be hungry more, but a study by Obesity the journal found that looking at images of food increased our levels of hunger via hormone spikes. Insane, right? So if you want to avoid those late night snacks then think about skipping the #food search on Twitter.
While just about anything in moderation is fine, research has shown that drinking alcohol will definitely lead to you feeling more and more hungry. The reason is actually pretty simple. An alcoholic beverage stimulates the feeling of hunger in your stomach and the actual alcohol impairs your decision making when considering options, leading to higher calorie foods and a less balanced meal. Throw in the dehydrating effect of alcohol and many people will mistake their bodies request for thirst as a reason to try and eat more food. In order to avoid the hunger associated with drinking, make sure to pair up each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. Stay hydrated, fill your stomach with liquid, and avoid destroying your weight loss program.
We touched up dehydration while discussing alcohol but the truth is actually much broader in scope. Did you know that the majority of people in the United States walk around dehydrated? This dehydration is entirely avoidable but oen we have become used to and no longer think twice about. Dehydration leads to your body giving you trouble: you get cranky, hungry, sore, and tired. A lot of people will mistakenly attribute those feelings to hunger and then eat when they don’t need to. So make sure that you are getting the appropriate amount of water every single day.
Low Quality Sleep
Scientists don’t know all of the mechanics of why we sleep but the research shows that appropriate rest every night will dramatically improve your quality of life. The same goes for sleep in relation to your hunger. When you don’t get enough quality rest at night your body starts to produce more of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hunger stimulating hormone that will have you looking for a treat when you wake up. A lack of rest also inhibits the production of leptin, another hormone, which makes you feel full. So if you feel yourself rolling around all night then be ready for hunger pains sometime after breakfast.
Eating Too Fast
We get it, in between the gym, work, kids and your latest healthy diet plans you don’t have much time to sit around and really enjoy your meal. However, you should know that eating too fast will cause some more issues for you down the road. Your brain and your stomach, like the rest of your body, are connected and when you eat too fast for them to properly communicate you won’t notice a change in your appetite. Studies in the journal of Clinical Endocrinolgy & Metabolism showcase this fact and they go one step further by giving some sound advice. If you want to eat your meal and not be hungry twenty minutes later: eat at a moderate pace, finish your meal, and then wait another ten minutes to see if you are truly full or not. This can be a pain if you are out to eat with friends or at a family get together, but it’s better than destroying your diet.
High Stress/Anxiety Levels
You’ve seen the TV shows where characters will get into some pretty stressful situations and then immediately begin eating a tub of ice cream. The TV meme actually showcases a problem in real life: emotional eating. Many people choose to dip into food as a sort of comfort when they are sad, angry, or otherwise just too stressed out. However, studies show that eating while emotional does not actually help you sooth yourself. Instead, all you are doing is triggering a destructive diet cycle. So if you are feeling stressful try to meditate, go for a jog, or talk to a friend instead — we’d suggest any of those options over another bag of chips.
Too Much Refined Food
Highly processed foods are bad for you no matter which way you cut it. The facts are in and the science shows that all of these boxed meals, frozen bags of junk food, and factory meats are doing our bodies no good. Processed foods have a lack of nutrient value while being high in sugar and caloric content. Your body naturally is trying to fulfill all of its nutrient needs and when it gets fed addictive chemicals and additives instead, it goes haywire. We’ll also add that high fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in many foods and drinks, can inhibit the development of your leptin hormone — which signals that you are full. The next time that you go to purchase a meal you should look on the back of the bag. The more ingredients you see on the list the less likely you should be to actually buy the food.
Mistaking Cravings for Hunger
Hundreds of years ago we didn’t have such a prevalence of available food in society. If you wanted to eat something you had to go work to physically procure it. Whether you had to travel to the market to haggle or hunt up the food yourself, it just wasn’t a simple transaction. Now we can get food anywhere at anytime for any price and it has changed how we look at the term ‘hunger’. Hunger, it should be known, is a physical reaction to your body needing sustenance. Cravings are when you just really feel like a certain treat. Know the difference and stop yourself from giving in to cravings when it is hunger that you should be paying more attention to, instead.
Too Much Down Time
Going with the aforementioned point, we have to point out how our personal habits lend to more eating and an increase in ‘hunger’. Look at your typical activities outside of work. In the digital age you’ll see more people sitting in front of a computer, lounging on a couch, or peeking at their cell phone. All of these activities lend themselves to ‘bored snacking’. When we eat because we are bored we are creating a habit that will constantly perk itself back up. We are conditioning our bodies to associate this down time with eating and thus we start to get hungry whenever we take part in these activities. You can eat to satisfy your hunger without destroying your diet by sticking to serving sizes. Don’t bring a bag of chips with you to watch TV, instead you should opt for a small cup if that is the serving size.
We all live busy lives and our bodies react differently to food at different times of the day. Some people really don’t like eating breakfast before heading to work. Others are still full from lunch and don’t want to eat dinner until really late. Even though we have our own unique reactions to meal placements, the truth is that we can’t skip meals without consequence. When you skip a meal your empty stomach starts to surge in the production of ghrelin. As we mentioned above, ghrelin is a hormone that promotes hunger within your body. When the hormone is in production you will begin to really want to eat. The general rule of thumb is to eat something at least every four hours in order to keep the hormone in check. For those of us who hate certain meals you can always opt for a healthy and easy to eat ‘meal on the go’, like yogurt or a protein packed sandwich to ease the transition.