Do you ever get ravenous just a few hours after you have a big meal? Do you keep looking in your fridge hoping something you missed will magically appear? Do you need that midnight snack before going to bed? We’re all different, and about a third of us have metabolisms that are higher than average, so that’s normal. But if it’s becoming an issue, then chances are you’re feeling that nagging constant hunger because of something that’s awry in your diet. Let’s discuss…
Foods high in refined sugars and fats and processed foods send your blood sugar soaring, only to crash soon after. And they relay the wrong signals and fool your body into thinking you are still hungry. During the digestive process, the body releases a series of hormones that send signals to your brain which tell you when you’ve had enough and can stop eating. When you consume processed foods, the signals from the stomach to the brain are impaired, resulting in an almost insatiable appetite. There are many types of foods that interfere with the body’s ‘we’re full now!’ signals. These foods include typical favorites such as cake, candy, ice cream and sodas, but also cereals, vegetable oils and red meats. And unfortunately, even a great workout won’t help to eliminate these additional fat reserves. Studies have shown that these foods also lead to a poorer memory and less sensitivity to the body’s signals that you are full.
It’s not unusual for a woman’s appetite and food consumption to increase during the second half of her menstrual cycle. If you find yourself experience this, put the emphasis on eating a bit more protein in each meal, such as eggs, fish, meat and nuts, and try your best to minimize the processed foods.
Hyperthyroidism is also a cause of constant hunger since it speeds up the body’s functions. The thyroid disorder Grave’s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. On the other spectrum is a perpetually low blood sugar level, hypoglycemia, may produce the same symptoms of hunger. A thorough blood test is in order to find out if you’re experiencing these disturbances.
Dealing with prolonged stress and anxiety cantrigger excessive hunger, as many of us know firsthand. That’s due to the production of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and adrenaline, when we’re overwhelmed, which suppress appetite. BUT, when stress persists, the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol, which increases appetite! And if stress is prolonged, cortisol has the potential to remain elevated causing excessive hunger.
Again, hormones play a large part here. When we’re sleep deprived, levels of leptin are greatly reduced. We need leptin because it’s respoinsible for sending signals of fullness to our brain. More on the benefits of sleep.
Solving the Never-Ending Hunger Feeling
The first thing to do is improve your diet by reducing or eliminating processed foods and refined sugars. There are other foods you can eat to improve the signals between the digestive system and the brain. These can help-
Vitamin E Foods
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It helps the nervous system and improves energy. Foods to eat include green leafy vegetables, nuts, and wheat germ.
Folic Acid Foods
Folic acid is one of the B vitamins, and helps to improve brain function. The vitamin is found in oranges and spinach.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Foods
Fatty acids are important for many functions of the body, including brain function. Foods high in omega 3s are fish and flaxseed.
Curcumin is found in tumeric, a spice. It is also an antioxidant. The spice is found in curry and is available as a supplement as well.
Polyphenols are micronutrients with antioxidant properties. They are found in fruits, vegetables, chocolate, red wine, tea and coffee.
Finally, when you’re unusually hungry
- Drink more water or tea when you’re feeling hungry
- Take a walk
- Brush your teeth
- Eat at a slower pace