When it comes to managing weight, the trick is to eat less, without feeling hungry or deprived all of the time. If you find yourself feeling hungry all of the time even without dieting, it's important to look into why you're feeling this way. Hunger can give us a lot of insight regarding digestion, sleep quality, hydration, stress levels, and so on. Here are 5 things to look for if you're feeling more hungry than usual.
When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies want more energy. Because we get our energy from food, it's only natural that our bodies make us feel like we need to eat more. Poor sleep - which could mean low quality sleep or not enough sleep - causes our bodies to increase the production of ghrelin (the hormone that makes us hungry) and decreases leptin (the hormone that makes us full), therefore, hunger increases when we don't sleep well.
Not Eating the Right Foods
Not all calories are created equal, and different macronutrients will have different effects on satiety or the feeling of fullness. One study found that high-protein snacks were connected to reduced hunger and longer satiety. These snacks along with high fiber foods typically tend to be more filling and longer-lasting than other options.
Bad Eating Habits
Distracted is the easiest way to overeat and succumb to emotional or unhealthy cravings. It can also cause you to eat too quickly. These eating habits directly impact feelings of satiety. Practicing mindful eating can help you feel more satisfied, eat less, and stay fuller longer. Turn off the TV, put down the phone, and use your five senses when you eat. Allocate enough time for your meal or snack and pay attention as you eat. Including water in this habit will help even more.
When you are low on sleep and high on stress, cravings can spike. Cortisol, which is the stress hormone, can trigger appetite, emotional eating, and cravings for refined carbs. Lack of sleep can trigger the ghrelin hormone, which stimulates appetite, and decrease leptin, which controls satiety. The same can happen for women during menstruation. Hormonal shifts may be harder to recognize, but knowing your body and its triggers can help immensely.
Often times, the afternoon craving for something to snack on is your body telling you to drink a glass or two of water. One study found that people often mistake the body’s signal for thirst as a signal for hunger, and the individual’s studied responded with food over water 62% of the time. If you’re feeling hungry soon after a meal or at an odd time of the day, try water first.