Take control of your relentless hunger with these tips
Do you always feel hungry? There are many factors influencing your appetite but sometimes it might seem like you’re hungrier than other people around you.
It’s normal to have varying levels of hunger, but if you feel constantly famished then it might be worthwhile to investigate why this is so.
It’s not practical to be eating all the time, and consuming excessive calories will eventually lead to weight gain.
Let’s look at some helpful ways you can improve your overall health, and keep the cookie monster at bay.
10 reasons why you always feel hungry
It goes without saying that if you’re hungry all the time, there’s a possibility you’re not eating enough. Your body produces hormones to signal that you’re hungry and need to eat. Food provides energy to the body and is vital to maintain our health and wellness.
So naturally, if you’re eating too little, your body will signal that you’re hungry. This is because you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in. This is common amongst dieters who have slashed their daily food intake in order to lose weight.
Along with hunger, you might feel light-headed, nauseous, and even develop a headache.
Eating a high protein snack like a boiled egg or a superfood smoothie may help to gradually lift your energy levels and ease nausea caused by hunger.
2. You’re not getting enough good fat
When we hear that we need to consume more “fat”, it’s easy to think of this as a bad thing. For decades the medical fraternity, media and scientists painted fat as the “bad guy” in our diets.
But nowadays we understand that we need to regularly consume healthy fats.
- Unhealthy fats – oils high in trans fats, like fried foods, chips, burgers etc.
- Saturated fats – these are somewhere in-between and include full cream dairy, red meats, and bacon
- Healthy fats – are natural and found in plants and animal products like fish, nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds, for example
Fat plays an important role in our feeling of satiety, so when you go “low fat”, you might find yourself feeling hungrier more often. Studies that suggest low-fat diets lead to that “I always feel hungry” situation, and, even worse, can contribute to carb cravings.
But when a diet is rich in healthy fats, it has the opposite effect. So add healthy fats to your meals and see if that keeps you fuller for longer.
3. Not enough fibre
Fibre plays a valuable role in digestion and helps us feel satisfied for longer. When we lack fibre in our diet, it can lead to feeling hungry no matter how much we eat.
Fibre has a low energy release and this is good if you’re conscious about unwanted weight gain. People who consume foods that release energy faster such as refined carbohydrates will experience faster weight gain. At the same time, they are prone to always feeling hungry.
When it comes to fibre, there are two main types: soluble and insoluble fibre. Both are good for your health when eaten in moderation. Soluble fibre helps with lowering bad cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, supporting a healthy gut, and reducing the chances of high blood pressure, to name a few.
Insoluble fibre helps with bowel movement and digestion.
Sources of soluble fibre (can dissolve in water)
- Citrus fruit
Sources of insoluble fibre (doesn’t dissolve in water)
4. You need more water
Not everyone enjoys drinking water, but water is very important to help reduce the chances of you always feeling hungry throughout the day. Water helps with digestion and as a bonus it suppresses your appetite naturally.
Drinking water also tricks the body into thinking that the stomach is full. The brain will thus produce hormones that translate “feel full.” Oftentimes we aren’t really hungry at all, but merely thirsty.
5. You don’t get enough sleep
While winter might be the ideal season to hibernate, we humans are often battling with stress and everyday struggles. This tends to preoccupy our lives and could lead to losing sleep. Some factors include work, family, and personal aspects.
Needless to say when all these are going down in our lives, sleep deprivation may not be far on the list. Many people struggle with sleeping disorders such as insomnia which is often linked to stress and other possible health conditions.
When we don’t get enough high-quality sleep, the body may produce less ghrelin and leptin, two important hormones that play a role in controlling hunger signals, fat storage and energy utilisation. It also balances whether we’re feeling “full”. Sleep helps improve ghrelin levels and thus helps to control appetite when we’re awake.
If the body is resistant to leptin, using fat stores for energy becomes impossible. Low ghrelin levels can also increase the feeling of being hungry. Prioritising your sleep will improve every aspect of your health, including your hunger levels.
6. You don’t “mindfully” eat your meals
Those of us with fast-paced lifestyles find that we’re often eating on the go, mostly while staring at our cell phones or computer screens. Some people use their lunch break to eat and check on their social media activities.
The problem with “distracted eating” is the fact that it can lead to feeling even more hungry. This is because if you eat whilst watching TV or in front of a computer, you don’t pay attention to your food. When we take the time to enjoy and savour our meals, we eat mindfully and this helps to avoid overeating.
Gobbling your food down can also lead to bloating, indigestion and weight gain. Mindful eating doesn’t allow for this because every bite is savoured.
So make it a goal to eat at least two meals a day away from a digital device and truly focus on your meal. Some experts suggest not eating with your dominant hand to help slow down the time you would usually take to munch your food.
7. Burning energy even when you’re not physically active
The metabolism is “the sum of the chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism and that provide energy for vital processes and for synthesizing new organic material.”
And some people seem to have faster metabolisms than others. These people might need to consume more food than others and if they don’t, they might feel constantly hungry.
8. Too much exercise
While regular exercise is crucial for healthy well-being, however, too much of it can lead to side effects. Intense exercise could lead to sore muscles and possible injury as well as increased hunger because you’re overworking your body. It’s best to take breaks and give your body time to recoup after intense workouts.
Since your body is exerting energy through your workout, you need to eat to supplement the type of exercise you’re going to do. Vigorous exercise and weight lifting not only burns calories, but it can also increase your muscle mass (and therefore you metabolic rate) and thus you’ll feel hunger more often.
9. You could be stressed
Too much stress can take a toll on the body which could lead to anxiety and an increased appetite. You’ll notice that sometimes people “stress eat”, and this makes them feel better. The truth is that when we eat the body also releases some endorphins (one of the happy hormones). This hormone makes us feel good, so we feel comforted when we eat and content for the most part.
Stress also causes the body to release cortisol, which has been linked to weight gain.
10. Other factors that could lead to increased hunger include:
- Taking certain medications (antihistamine, antidepressants, insulin, nerve pain and anti-seizure medication)
- Drinking liquid calories (diet shakes)
- Medical conditions (pregnancy, diabetes, thyroid problems)
- Excessive alcohol intake (ciders, wines, beer, spirits)
- Use of marijuana
Closing thoughts on why you always feel hungry
We hope we’ve shown you that when you always feel hungry, it might have to do with how much you’re eating, but could also be as a result of numerous other factors.
By implementing some of the advice above, we hope that you can get a handle on your appetite so that you don’t feel controlled by food or your hunger levels.
Now that you know some of the reasons why you always feel hungry, you can go to your next move and work on the way forward. Implementing healthy eating habits and exercising every day will help ensure a better mood and a healthier you.
While you may not see a change straight away, you will see an improvement with time. And obviously, if you are at all concerned with your hunger levels or eating habits, please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.