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  • Writer's pictureKaren Bobinski

Help! I'm always hungry...

Hunger is an uncomfortable feeling

Its 2 just ate lunch a couple of hours ago and now you are STARVING again! Your mind begins to wander to food and you find yourself unable to concentrate until you satisfy that nagging hunger. But are you REALLY hungry? Or is something different going on?

Maybe you are just thirsty ? We are chronically under hydrated, and thirst can be misleadingly represented by feelings of hunger. The best way to ascertain if you are in fact hungry - drink a big glass of water and then reevaluate your hunger. Our bodies are made up of approx 65-70% water - a good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water ! To understand the importance of water , check out this blog

If you're feeling hungry - try drinking a glass of water

Is stress making you falsely hungry? Stress and tension can lead to an overproduction of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This can trick your body into thinking it is hungry - when in fact, you are just stressed. Incorporating stress reducing activities into your daily routine can help mitigate the damages and unhealthy side effects of stress, including ongoing hunger. Author Hal Elrod created the "miracle morning" - a mindful way to start your day, keep you centered and reduce stress.

Lack of sleep plays an important role in hunger. Too often we are sacrificing our sleep for our busy lifestyles - thinking "I'll sleep when I am dead", but little do you know - not sleeping adequately each night may shorten your life, or at the very least cause daytime drowsiness and excess hunger due to the increase in the hormone Ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and the decrease in Leptin, your satiety hormone.

Stress and lack of sleep will adversely affect your hunger

Are your food choices making you hungry? Everyone has felt that sugar crash...while you thoroughly enjoyed that chocolate glazed boston cream donut in the moment - the quick spike in blood sugar - then sudden crash after... will leave you feeling sluggish and craving another "jolt" of refined carbs to refuel. This creates a vicious cycle. Refined carbs are essentially sugars and processed grains such as white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, breakfast cereals, and processed foods. Instead - think of eating COMPLEX carbs that are high in fiber such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, whole grains.

You should also consider the protein and healthy fats you are eating. Protein isn't stored in the body - therefore incorporating protein into each meal, whether it is plant protein or quality animal protein, along with healthy fats such as avocado , extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, dark chocolate will leave you full over as they are slower to digest.

ditch the refined carbs in favor of veggies and fruit

Besides what you eat ...HOW you eat is very important to your satiety and nutrient absorption. It is not uncommon for people to just scarf down their food while on the run in their busy day. This does not allow your brain to register that it has eaten enough. It also impedes your digestion for several reasons.

Firstly, the Sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is still engaged - thereby essentially inhibiting salivation and digestion. Your "three chews - swallow" technique is not providing adequate break down of your food and an opportunity to properly mix with your saliva ( which is already decreased), creating a "chyme" that is easier to digest. Your un-chewed food particles then enter your stomach - which is impaired by your current stressed / rushed state, and digestion is not happening adequately or efficiently.

Your nutrient absorption is altered and your food is not fueling you as you need, hence the returning hunger post meal.

When you eat - sit down - if you've been rushing around or feeling stressed in any way - take a minute to practice some deep breathing techniques (4,7,8 breathing) to calm and engage your parasympathetic nervous system - the "rest and digest" system. Take a look at your food - admire the colors, textures and aroma. ( this will get your saliva glands secreting saliva) . Count to 25 with each mouthful - chewing well. Put your fork down between bites. Put away the distractions such as phone, computer, iPad and television. Try to limit the liquid you drink with your meal to a few sips as a full glass of liquid will dilute your digestion enzymes .

take the time to eat mindfully

If you have addressed all these possible causes of your hunger without any improvement, consider there may be medical reasons behind the hunger.

Medications can cause unchecked hunger. If you are taking SSRI antidepressants, steroids, antihistamines and anti seizure medication - you may have an increased hunger side effect.

Medical conditions to consider that can contribute to hunger are Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, depression, hypoglycemia, obesity and insomnia.

And as a side note - true hunger is felt in the mouth and throat - not the stomach and head. True hunger will increase salivation, enhance the taste sensation and give you a gnawing sensation in your throat.

This blog is for information purposes only. Please consult your health care provider before making any dietary , supplement or medication changes .

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