Have you ever eaten a full meal, only to feel hungry an hour later? Do you find your day consists of constantly noshing on snacks and never feeling satisfied?
Turns out, there are many factors that could be contributing to your constant urge to eat. While each individual’s case is different, numerous certified nutritionists and doctors have narrowed the list to five main culprits for our surprising hunger. Thankfully, many of these causes are easily fixed with simple changes to our diet and habits.
Your Sleep is Slacking
In case you needed another reason to hit the hay at a reasonable hour each night, sleep deprivation is also a major culprit for causing you to feel hungry. Getting less than the recommended sleep causes a drop in the levels of leptin produced by the body, the hormone that tells our brains we are full.
As if that weren’t enough, a lack of sleep also negatively affects two other hormones, ghrelin and cortisol. Ghrelin’s main function is to alert the brain whenever we are hungry. Cortisol is the hormone linked to stress, and has a multitude of effects on the body, which includes wanting to constantly eat. Just one bad night of sleep can cause a spike in both ghrelin and cortisol levels, meaning major hunger cravings!
To avoid all the bad hormonal consequences triggered by a poor night’s sleep, aim for a regular bedtime each night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try adding some meditation exercises into your nightly routine, and avoid screens close to bed time.
Blame the Booze
Ever notice after throwing back a few drinks while out with friends, you almost always feel hungry afterwards? While alcohol adds up in calories, it has the reverse effect on your brain, causing it to send signals to the rest of your body that you are starving.
Despite the fact you might be consuming sufficient calories with alcoholic drinks included, your body is tricked into thinking otherwise. Suzanne Dixon, a dietician from Florida, recommends getting more calories from nutrient filled food and cutting back on the booze to start feeling full again.
A Troubling Sweet Tooth
Although sugary sweets like cakes, breads, and soda can serve that quick craving fix, these refined carbohydrates do more of a disservice than just empty calories. The high sugar content in these foods causes rapid changes in blood sugar, which may make you feel satisfied in the moment, but causes you to feel intense hunger later.
This doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your beloved carbohydrates for good, but eating more balanced foods with higher protein content can help you to avoid the sugar rush.
Hungry or Not Hydrated?
Often times when we think we are feeling hungry, we are actually just experiencing dehydration! A simple way to test if that hunger pang is actually thirst is by sipping a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes. If your hunger magically disappears- you can thank hydration for that.
Another easy way to keep hydrated all day is by eating more fruits and vegetables, many of which are loaded in nutrients and water. Watermelon, strawberries, and cucumbers are all great, tasty sources to keep you hydrated and feeling less hungry.
Ditch the Dieting
With summer upon us and the urge to quickly get that beach body, it’s tempting to resort to extreme diets. Nutritionists say this is a serious mistake, for our bodies need a certain number of calories each day to function properly and avoid fatigue. The more tired we are, the hungrier we get… and the more the cravings kick in. Additionally, consuming too little food actually slows down our metabolism– making it that much harder to shed those extra pounds.
If you are trying to lose some weight and not go crazy from hunger, the best advice is to aim for a solid balance of proteins, fats and carbs in your diet. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself and still eat some of your favorite treats- the cravings will subside with everything in moderation!
Photos: Unsplash and Pixabay