Do you always feel hungry, even after polishing off a tasty meal? Do you always snack at 3 p.m.? 6.pm? 8.pm? All the time?
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone: some people experience hunger pangs more frequently. And while there are occasionally medical reasons for this—a thyroid issue, for instance, or taking certain antidepressants that increase hunger— the culprit is likely your diet or lifestyle.
That means the problem can be fixed. How?
Check out these 10 common causes of hunger pangs, and find out how small lifestyle tweaks can make you feel satisfied for longer.
You’re not sleeping enough.
Lack of sleep may disrupt appetite-regulating hormones, ultimately increasing hunger, according to a 2016 report by the American Heart Association. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, increases when you’re sleep-deprived. Leptin, the hormone that signals satiety, decreases.
In addition, the more hours you spend awake, the more likely you are to nibble something from the refrigerator.
Aim to sleep about seven hours each night, and remember that the blue light from your devices can negatively affect sleep.
Make a rule: Screens in bed, like breakfast in bed, should be a special occasion.
You’re Drinking Your Meals
Most packaged “meal replacement” shakes or fruit smoothies won’t keep you satiated for long. So, if you start every morning with a protein shake, that could explain why you’re always hungry.
The reason is that liquids empty out of your stomach in less than an hour, says gastroenterologist Scott D. Levenson, M.D., director of the Digestive Care Medical Center in San Carlos, California.
By comparison, solid foods take two to four hours.
Second, blending foods pulverizes their fibres, so your body breaks them down faster, reducing satiety.
Listen to Mom and chew your food. A 2015 review of studies found that higher levels of “oral processing” (otherwise known as chews per bite) at a meal affect the gut hormones linked to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness.
You’re not really eating.
Maybe you’ve never liked breakfast. Or your work schedule pushes meetings through lunch. Or you just “forget” to eat. It’s time to prioritize consistent meal times.
People who don’t eat regular meals have poorer diet quality, and skipping breakfast is associated with a higher intake of added sugars, according to a 2017 study published in Circulation. The same research found that eating breakfast also reduces impulsive snacking.
When you’re awake, your stomach takes about four hours to empty after a meal. If you’re hungry before then, you didn’t eat well at the preceding meal (more on that soon). If you frequently forget to eat, set a phone alarm or calendar alert.
You’re not drinking enough water.
Dehydration often mimics the feeling of hunger. That’s because the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates hunger and thirst, can send you mixed messages when you’re super thirsty, leading you to think that you need a snack even though you really just need a glass of water.
If you’ve just eaten a big meal and still want more, drink a glass of water before grabbing a second helping. You’ll likely find that you don’t really need that extra helping of mashed potatoes after all.
Yup, seriously, boredom is a major contributing factor to weight gain. In fact, a 2015 study found a link between susceptibility to boredom and overeating.
To test yourself to see if you’re truly hungry, imagine a huge, sizzling steak. If you’re truly hungry, the steak will seem appealing. But if that doesn’t seem tempting, chances are you’re in need of a distraction, not another meal.
Having an incredibly stressful day at work? That could have a huge impact on your desire to eat (that’s why stress eating is such a thing). When the day’s worries weigh you down, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause cravings for sugary, fattening or salty foods so you have the fuel to handle whatever threats come your way.
Luckily, you can tackle these cravings by keeping healthy snacks on hand and exercising to reduce anxiety.
You spend too much time looking at food porn.
All that time ogling fattening foods on Instagarm could be the cause of your cravings. A review of studies from 2016 published in the journal Brain and Cognition posited that food porn on social media could be making us “visually hungry.”
In one study analyzed in the review, researchers found that obese people’s brains reacted more powerfully to food photos, even if they weren’t currently hungry, compared to people who were at a healthy weight. So if you’re predisposed to wanting that juicy burger, it’s probably not a good idea to look at pictures of it.
Now that you know what is making you hungry all the time, maybe it is time to check it and just…avoid it!
Source: Men’s Health
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