Are you one of those people who are always thinking about food? Thinking about food constantly, or being hungry, isn’t necessarily normal. I’m going to give you 10 reasons why you may be hungry.
There are several conditions or issues that cause constant and ongoing feelings of starvation,
and this is something you should definitely investigate with your physician.
Before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, I was always hungry, but setting a celiac diagnosis aside, here are some of the most common problems related to the experience of chronic hunger.
“Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs
fluids,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and
Our brain mistakes our thirst for hunger since both are controlled by the same part of the brain,
the hypothalamus. A study carried out by the Journal of Physiology & Behavior found that we
mistake our thirst for hunger 60% of the time.
Water is crucial for carrying nutrients to where they need to go, and lack of water means lack of
nutrients, which makes our body think it’s running low on fuel and strikes up ‘hunger pangs.’
If you’re eating more than usual, constantly hungry, but still losing weight, then you could have a
problem with your thyroid. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid speeds up
everything the body does. This means all of your metabolic processes will run faster than they
normally would. As a result, you will find yourself with an insatiable hunger.
Having tests run by a doctor for thyroid function is the only way to be sure that you do not suffer from this medical condition.
Your Hormones Are off
Besides hyperthyroidism, several hormonal conditions can affect your metabolic function.
Women’s Health Magazine points to conditions like prediabetes and diabetes, hypoglycemia,
and other insulin and glucose related issues as the main sources of hunger spikes.
Your hormones handle many things in your body and shouldn’t be ignored.
You Skip Meals
If you skip meals in an effort to burn off some fat, you are making a mistake. When you skip a
meal, your body goes into “storage” mode and locks down on the fat cells in case there’s a bout
of starvation going around.
Also, ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating your appetite, goes into overdrive when
you leave your stomach with no food for a long time. A rule of thumb is not to go without food
for more than 4 or 5 hours, and opt for healthy snacks.
You’re Not Sleeping
Sleep is one of the biggest regulators of hormones. Hormones such as those produced during
stress (cortisol) relate directly to your sleep cycle. In addition, to sleep affecting hormones, lack of enough sleep can also cause you to have a larger appetite.
WebMD notes that craving high fat and high calorie foods are symptoms of being overtired.
Along with craving foods that are bad for you, you may notice a change in mood, clumsiness,
difficulty focusing and weight gain.
If you’re having all of these symptoms and aren’t sleeping your eight hours every night, it may be time
to add some extra sleep into your daily schedule. Once you do, you should see an immediate
decrease in the stress responses due to lack of sleep.
You Rush Through Meals
When you don’t use your five senses while eating, you’re likely to eat more than those who pay
attention to their food. Even listening to the crunching of your food registers with your brain on
some level, allowing for the hormone leptin, which is responsible for the sense of being full, to
start working after nearly 20 minutes of eating.
But if you’re distracted watching TV, or playing on your phone, or working on your laptop, your
brain doesn’t register that you’re eating and you end up eating almost 40% more than you
Take your time and practice mindful eating. Try to spend at least 20 to 25 minutes eating. That will give the hormone leptin time to kick in and help your body to recognize that it is full.
Too Many Carbs
Eating a meal full of carbohydrates means you’re flooding your bloodstream with sugars,
especially glucose, which then alerts insulin to be released in huge amounts to take in all that
glucose. And since insulin moves fast, it will take away the sugar quickly, leaving you with a
sudden drop in blood sugar levels.
This triggers hunger pangs and out of control cravings. Steer clear of refined carbs, including
sugar, white breads, rice, and pasta. Opt for whole grains and eat a clean diet filled with whole
food, which will also improve digestion and boost metabolism.
You’re Stressed Out
Usually when we’re stressed, we lose our appetite. However, that’s only temporary, because
prolonged stress increases the release of the hormone cortisol, which triggers our sense of
hunger. What’s more is that cortisol takes out lipids from our bloodstream and stores them in fat
cells, adding on the pounds, thus increasing stress levels even more.
Not Enough Protein
Lean protein takes some time to fully digest, which means you feel full longer. What’s more is
that lean protein provides your body with an appetite-suppressing effect.
Protein comes in many forms, such as eggs, meat, poultry, and fish. However, there are also
other sources of protein, which you can consume any time of the day, such as quinoa, hummus,
and peanut butter.
I f you are on medications, some medications could be increasing your appetite. The scientific explanation is that any type of medication you ingest is a chemical, which goes into your body and can create a discrepancy in your body’s natural chemical balance.
While there is no one for sure answer as to why you are always hungry, these things are the top
contenders for chronic hunger symptoms. The best thing that you can do is start by drinking
plenty of water and getting enough sleep. If you’re doing both of these things, then you may have a
problem that should be addressed by your physician.
If all of your blood work shows normal hormone levels, your hunger may be psychological
appetite rather than real hunger. Learning to control your appetite can be done, but can’t always be done alone. If you’d like help getting your cravings and hunger under control, I can help.