Am I Really Hungry?

Stomach growling, loss of energy, or a nauseated feeling, then yes you may be hungry.   But here are some other factors going on that may make you think you are hungry:

  1. Tired
    It kicks the digestive system into having a job and keeping you awake.  Also, the body was meant to digest food sitting or standing, not lying down.  This is why you might have heard not to eat too late, or close to bed time.
  2. Stress
    Hormone cortisol adrenaline pump = high blood pressure and hunger signals
  3. Sadness emotional eating
    Changing your eating habits when you have more stress in your life.
    1. Eating when you are not hungry or when you are full.
    2. Eating to avoid dealing with a stressful situation.
    3. Eating to soothe your feelings.
    4. Using food as a reward.
  4. Cravings
    This could be an endorphin rush from certain foods – like sugar, or a mind state an association with a smell or place, or something that you may be lacking in your diet.  A few examples; if you are lacking omega 3 fatty acids you may crave chips, or if you are low in magnesium, you may crave chocolate.
  5. Hormonal changes/fluctuations
    With women in the week before their menstrual cycle, hunger may be increased due to changes in hormones. Increased levels of progesterone and decreased levels of oestrogen. Oestrogen can have the effect of suppressing your appetite, while progesterone is linked to an increase in appetite.
  6. Medication
    Some drugs, like certain steroids and antidepressants, can stimulate appetite, so you eat more
  7. Out of routine.
    When in routine like a set scheduled day, as in a work day, you may have planned your meals and snacks to eat at available set times.  More thought is put into your food and portions at those set times.  On a day with no set schedule, you tend to be less regimented with less intention put towards portion size, timing and food choices.
  8. Thirst
  9. When dehydrated you can start to crave sugar.  The reason for this is a lack of fluid can make it difficult for organs like the liver to release glycogen (stored glucose), hence, it can actually trigger food cravings.

Some of these things may seem obvious to deal with and others a little more difficult.  

When thirsty make sure to adjust your water intake so that you get adequate intake throughout each day.  

When out of routine start making yourself more aware before mindlessly putting something in your mouth.  

If always tired, start trying to get more sleep.  This could also be due to stress.  Manage your stress, change routine, job, put up boundaries, ask for help…. Whatever it is, make it happen!  See below emotional eating strategies.

Other things as specific cravings, hormonal changes or medication, may be a bit more complicated and may need you to dive a little deeper.  Getting hormone levels or vitamin/mineral levels checked through your doctor or naturopathic practitioner, may be a bit more specific to what is needed.   

With medication try to be mindful to not to overeat.  Hunger as mentioned, may be heightened so try increasing fluids.  Drinking more water (which could be in the form of herbal teas or decaf coffee) will help fill the stomach, making you feel fuller.

When it comes to emotional eating try these strategies below to change your focus.  Note, emotional eating is often intertwined with stress. 

  • 5 people you can call.
  • 5 ways to calm down, a comfort place like porch, balcony, garden…
  • 5 ways to relax, shower, walk, read …
  • 5 things you can say to yourself – this will pass, be optimistic take a positive out of everything you can, even if it is minor.  Focus on the positive!
  • 5 activities to distract yourself – Netflix, chores, meditate, pray…

*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: 

Mikkie Nettles, Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
Follow DEEM Health on Facebook, or contact info@deemhealth.ca

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