Why am I always hungry?

Nathalie-BasmaHow many times have you gone out to eat, had two appetizers, a main meal and your friend’s leftovers, a ‘bite’ of every dessert offered at the restaurant, and still feel hungry 30 minutes after? Story of my life. Hunger is your body telling you it needs sustenance so it can operate efficiently. But what if your body (and mind) are trying to tell you something else?

1. You are not getting the right balance of nutrients.
Make sure you are getting a good amount of fiber protein, and some healthy fat. All three can help slow digestion, which keeps blood sugar stable and keeps you full longer. Examples of fiber can be a serving of plain popcorn, vegetable sticks and cherry tomatoes. Protein and healthy fat can come from roasted almonds, hummus (not the kind that is more tahini than chickpeas), avocados and skim cottage cheese. Be intentional about the snacks you choose.

2. You are eating too many simple carbs and sugars.
Eating lots of simple carbs and sugar will make it impossible to feel satisfied. You know what I’m talking about. Bread, pasta, doughnuts and other yummy pastries are delicious and will fill you up temporarily; that is until your sugar high crashes and your body starts wanting more within the hour.

3. You are dehydrated and confusing thirst for hunger.
Our thirst and hunger cues come from the same part of the brain, making it hard for us to figure out what exactly our body is wanting. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink it throughout the day. You’ll know you’re drinking enough water when your urine is a light yellow or clear color. Yes you have to pay attention to what goes into your body, and what comes out of it.

4. You are stressed.
When I’m stressed, my eating habits reach some superhuman levels. I’ll eat everything and anything that’s in my face. Simply out, stress increases your body’s production of cortisol, which boosts your appetite. Even if you do keep relatively healthy snacks around, your body will still want more. Identify ways to reduce your stress levels and that will reduce your boost in appetite.

5. You are not paying attention to what you’re eating.
Not paying attention to what you’re eating is easy to fall into. Eat mindfully. In our busy days and hectic schedules, we forget to take a minute, slow down, and notice everything around us. Take a minute and pay attention to what and why you’re eating. Are you hungry? Are you bored or restless? Are you eating because your friends are eating around you? For example, if you’re wanting to snack on a bag of almonds, take the time to count out the amount of almonds you plan on consuming. This will help refocus your mind on what you are eating. It will also make sure that you don’t eat the entire bag of almonds (something I do often) and turn a small snack into a full meal.

6. You are not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is very closely linked with two hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin reduces appetite and ghrelin stimulates it. So when you are sleep deprived, there is an increase in appetite and stimulation of hunger. Pay attention to your sleep habits and make sure you are getting a good amount of it on a regular basis. If you are having a hard time sleeping, (go back to number four) what are your stress levels looking like?

7. You have an underlying medical condition that is messing with your appetite.
If after going through (number one till six), you find that you are still always feeling hungry, and continue to overeat, it may be worth it to see a doctor to rule out any health concerns. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression and anxiety can all be potential factors that impact your eating habits.

This article was published on 26/05/2016