Are You Sure You’re Really Hungry?

by | Dec 17, 2011 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

Time to Eat

A frightening number of people are carrying around enough excess weight to be considered categorically obese, and at least 63 percent fall into the range of being overweight. That’s a shocking number – over half of the population, and the statistics aren’t improving. One of the most common causes mentioned by experts who are researching this epidemic is simple overeating. Portions are larger than ever, and snacking has become a very unhealthy national pastime. Going back for seconds when the first helping was plenty, and mindlessly plowing through a bag of pretzels while watching television are the sorts of behavior that must be adjusted, but,

why do we behave this way and overeat in the first place?

There are reasons other than boredom and bad habits that can be behind overeating. Here are some of them.

Not getting enough rest.

When your body hasn’t had an adequate amount of sleep it can interpret the lack as hunger. Leptin is a hormone which is produced by fat cells and works to control appetite, and it is decreased when we are overly tired. At the same time, the hormone gherlin, which is produced by the stomach and stimulates the appetite, is increased. So basically you’ve got a situation in which two of your body’s natural mechanisms are working against you, and that’s a difficult place to find yourself in. The best possible remedy is of course to get a good night’s sleep, and when you do miss out on your full share of rest, for whatever reason, make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and complex carbs to satisfy the feelings of hunger in the best possible way.

Prescribed medications that make you feel hungry.

There are a number of medications that can cause you to feel hungry as a side effect. Two of the most common are antibiotics and steroids. If you’re taking a prescribed medication that’s causing you to have a strong appetite for food, it’s important to stick to normal mealtimes with normal portions, and outside of that try alternative techniques to refocus your mind away from the feelings of hunger. A hot cup of coffee or tea can be satisfying, and you can also try chewing a piece of sugar-free gum, or brushing your teeth to combat the problem.

Not drinking enough water.

Being dehydrated can make you feel hungry, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Sometimes, when a person is chronically dehydrated, and a great number of people are, the natural response of feeling thirsty disappears and you will begin to experience false feelings of hunger instead. Anytime you feel hungry and it’s not at a mealtime, or you know you’ve eaten recently and shouldn’t be feeling hungry, explore the possibility that you might be dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea, and then wait 10 minutes to re-access your feelings before you decide whether or not to eat something.

Force of habit says it’s time to eat.

It’s so common to eat on autopilot at certain times of the day. While it’s important to eat at regular intervals, it’s equally important to not eat just because it’s routine, if you’re not hungry. When a mealtime rolls around, ask yourself if you’re really feeling hungry before you prepare food or have a meal. If the answer is no, then try postponing the mealtime for 30 minutes or so, and when you do eat, have smaller portions than you normally would.

Eating too quicky.

If you’ve just finished lunch and you still feel hungry, it’s important to wait for a length of time before having more food. Your brain needs time to receive signals from your stomach that it’s full, and when you rush through a meal there hasn’t been enough time for your brain to recognize a feeling of satisfaction. Try slowing down when you eat, practice putting your fork down between bites of food, and being mindful of your meal – the taste, textures, colors, etc.

Emotional eating

Another very common cause of overeating is eating when you’re feeling stressed or sad. Your body may actually release hormones that cause feelings of hunger when you’re under stress, as well. In this situation it’s ultimately a matter of making good decisions. Again, mindfulness is important – try to be aware of the fact that you’re feeling sad, or stressed, and why. Tell yourself that you won’t turn to food for comfort as it will only cause more stress in the long term. Use deep breathing techniques and meditation to refocus your thoughts when possible, or lose yourself in a good book for a period of time.

It can be difficult to adopt new ways of dealing with issues once they’ve become a habit. Use this information about overeating to help yourself plan better ways of eating, and to form a healthier relationship with food.

The holidays are a time that overeating can be a real issue. We hope that this article will help you remain mindful of your eating habits at this time of year.