I am a firm believer that you do not need to feel hungry – ever. I should clarify. Everyone will feel hungry at some point, but there is no need to let that hunger go unattended.
Hunger is a signal from your body that it needs something, but it’s important to differentiate between hunger and cravings. One is a physical response, and the other is an emotional response.
Emotional Causes of Hunger
Emotional hunger is probably the hardest type of hunger to control. Emotional hunger signals are rooted in lifestyle behaviors. These cravings are born out of boredom or routine.
Certain activities trigger an emotional response to eat. When you sit on the couch in front of the TV, do you feel the need to eat? Are you bored at night and fill your time with pleasure-eating?
While there are some physical things you can do to control this type of hunger, to really be successful, you have to focus on changing habits. Slowly but surely you need to start replacing these emotions with more productive activities.
If you are bored, go and do something. If you want to watch TV and eat food, find healthy snack alternatives. There are plenty of delicious healthy snacks ideas out there.
Low Blood Sugar
Physical hunger is a much easier hunger to control, and fortunately, nearly anyone can make improvements in this area. For example, are you hungry an hour after eating? Do you really think you need food again so soon?
The more likely cause of your hunger is low blood sugar, which was caused by eating a high-glycemic meal. Low blood sugar triggers a strong response to eating carbohydrates.
This low blood sugar is also the cause of the sleepiness most people experience mid-afternoon. Stay away from processed foods and focus on eating low-glycemic whole foods that provide a nice steady release of glucose.
I’d say one of the leading causes of hunger is so simple that most people just overlook it – they aren’t eating enough. Mind-blowing…I know. However, you’d be surprised how much people suffer from hunger when undergoing a weight loss program. They assume that you’re supposed to be hungry or even downright starving at times. This is not the case at all!
If you’re eating the right kinds of foods and you’re eating enough calories, hunger should only show itself every once in a while when it’s actually time to eat. If you’re eating below 10 times your body weight in calories and find that you’re starving most of the time, I highly recommend that you eat more food.
Another way to keep hunger under control is to eat more satiating food. What is a satiating food? They are foods that fill you up and keep the hunger response at bay.
These foods share many of the same qualities. They are fiber dense, water dense, and low-glycemic. Protein has also shown a high satiating effect that is greater than both fat and carbohydrates .
Both natural and artificial sweeteners can cause cravings. Refined sugars send an influx of glucose into the bloodstream, which in return spikes insulin levels.
That’s what’s supposed to happen, but this sudden spike in insulin clears out the glucose too much, which leaves you with low blood sugar and cravings all over again – and the cycle continues.
Artificial sweeteners act in a similar way, but they don’t have calories, so they don’t cause a rise in blood glucose. Instead, they make your body think that there’s glucose, and it ends up releasing insulin anyways.
A release of insulin without any blood glucose is an easy recipe for hunger cravings. Artificial sweeteners also act on the brain, making it think it’s getting nutrients that it really isn’t. In return, your body continues to send out hunger signals to get the nutrients it needs.
Eat Your Essential Nutrients
It’s not just about calorie quantity. It’s also about the quality of those calories. Essential nutrients must be ingested through your diet, as your body cannot manufacture them itself.
Essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals need to be eaten in sufficient quantities. Essential fatty acids have the ability to modulate satiety levels . If you don’t eat enough, your body will continue to tell you to eat until you do. How does it do this? Hunger signals.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of drinking water when it comes to hunger. Water makes every function of the body work more efficiently. In addition, thirst is mistaken for hunger many times.
If you feel hungry all the time and you are not exclusively drinking water, that should be your very first step. Proper hydration is essential, and no other liquid can provide the levels you need besides water.