We all experience it, several times a day. Or at least we should experience it several times a day. Modern life means that for some, true hunger is never really experienced. Instead, some are bombarded with mixed messages all day, meaning that their intrinsic hunger cues are subdued. More eating occasions throughout the day means that people are eating for reasons other than hunger.
You might be hungry for a connection with someone, but choose triple cheese toasted sandwiches to fill the absence. Perhaps you’re hungry for happiness and don’t know how to find it, so you numb yourself with chocolate cake. Or maybe you are just down in the dumps after a knock back at work, so that delightful bottle of bubbly helps to quench your hunger. Most of the reasons for overeating are linked to our emotions. Think about that for a second.
We are eating for emotional reasons instead of physiological reasons related to hunger. If we eat to avoid feeling an emotion, that emotion will still be there after eating.
Hunger means different things to different people. Hunger in the body is managed by the release of hormones that work via a series of signals and pathways to let us know when to eat, or when to stop. Sounds easy enough. Constant overeating though, and eating for reasons other than hunger can mean that these signals are ignored or not getting through.
Hunger is controlled in the body via a combination of hormones working together to communicate to our activity centre (hypothalamus) to balance how much food we consume. Grehlin is our hunger hormone, it tells the brain when our stomach is empty, signalling the need to eat by triggering hunger pains. Think your stomach growling, grrrr. Interestingly, metabolism slows down with the release of grehlin, as a protective mechanism for our body to conserve any nutrients as it does not know when the next meal will be. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood by moving it into cells for energy. Leptin is the satiety hormone, produced by our fat cells in response to adequate food that tells us when to stop eating. Our body is actually trying to work with us for energy/weight balance.
There are some of us however, that do not experience that real, stomach growling hunger, and others who are resistant to either insulin or leptin. This can go someway to explaining differences in appetite and hunger between people.
What can you do to help manage your appetite? Start listing to your hunger, using my tips below.
Top 3 ways to be more aware of your hunger
- Keep a hunger/fullness scale for a week. Start listening to your hunger cues, write them down.
- Once you have documented about a week’s worth of data, look for trends. Were you not hungry for hours after a big meal? Or are you constantly famished?
- Pause half way through a meal and check in with yourself, ask if you need more food or if you are satisfied.
I’d love to hear what has worked for you in identifying or managing your hunger? You can comment below, or connect via Facebook or Instagram.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Madeleine (That Healthy Girl).
This blog post first appeared on That Healthy Girl blog Sunday 27th August 2017 and was written by Madeleine Baumgart https://flipsidenutrition.com.au/2017/08/27/what-are-you-hungry-for/