The secret to a healthy body may lie deep within, in the digestive system.
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11 September 2017
Do hunger pangs come creeping back quickly, despite eating a big meal two hours ago? Your body might be trying to tell you something.
It’s one of those days where you’ve had a really filling breakfast and you think, “Maybe I’ll have lunch a little later today.” But an hour before your usual lunchtime, you’re already hungry and counting down the seconds before you get to eat again. Less than two hours after a big lunch, you’re extremely sleepy – but you’re starving again! Does this sound familiar to you?
It’s normal for your appetite to be a little bigger than usual if you’ve been busy at the gym, or if you’re pregnant. But if it seems like you’ve been eating nonstop, yet you’re still hungry all the time, you may want to get to the root of the issue. The solution to curbing the hunger pangs isn’t always to keep stuffing yourself – sometimes, you need to figure out what’s causing you to be so ravenous. We take a look at some indicators that could explain why you constantly feel like eating, and what you can do to curb that empty feeling in your stomach.
You’re not hungry…you’re thirsty
Sometimes, mild dehydration can seem like hunger pangs to us. It’s normal for your body to mistake hunger for thirst when you’re not staying on top of your fluid intake – especially during warmer days. Start your morning with a glass of water, and drink another 1.5 to 2.5 litres throughout the day to stay adequately hydrated. It’s also best to pick plain water over sugary or gassy drinks, as the empty calories in these drinks can confuse your brain and make it think that you’re hungry. The next time your tummy starts growling, try fighting back by having a glass of water and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.
You’re eating the wrong carbs
Carbs and starch are good for you as they give you the energy you need to get through the day. But if your diet revolves around simple carbs and highly-refined starches like white bread, white rice or breakfast cereals, then you’re getting your energy from the wrong sources. These sugary carbs are quick-digesting foods, so when you load up on them, your body is tricked into thinking that you need more food to supply more energy. Try snacking on slow-digesting foods such as brown rice, berries or nuts to feel full for longer.
It’s not hunger, it’s stress
When your body enters fight or flight mode, it’s usually accompanied by an increase in production of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This is what makes your brain think that you need more food, thus causing you to overeat when stressed out. To combat this, the next time you feel like munching on potato chips or scarfing down a tub of ice cream, evaluate how you’re feeling – if you realise you’re upset or tired, try running a relaxing bath or pressing play on a soothing playlist instead.
You’re not eating enough healthy fat or protein
Like carbs, fat and protein can keep the hunger pangs at bay. Lean protein and healthy fat are linked to helping you stay full longer and feeling satisfied with your meal. As a bonus, protein has also been found to have an appetite-suppressing effect, so you don’t feel like you’re starving all the time! Get your protein from lean meat, eggs, beans or soy food and your healthy fat from avocado, tuna, salmon or dark chocolate. However, be sure to limit your daily fat dietary intake to 20% to 35% of your calorific intake.
You’re not hungry, you’re just tired
We’re supposed to have 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night – but how often do we tell ourselves that 5 hours is enough? Whether we’re trying to finish that report, watch one more episode, or stay out a little later with friends, these decisions cut into our sleep time. Often even when we do get our recommended 7 hours of sleep, the quality of our sleep may be poor, and can also contribute to that pesky hungry feeling. This lack of sleep is what makes it more difficult for our bodies to regulate our hunger hormone levels. Our body demands a sugar rush to get a shot of energy, even if we’re not really hungry. Find out how you can achieve better sleeping habits here.
It’s mindless eating
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating while working on your laptop, browsing through your social feed on your phone, or watching television – if you’re in front of a screen, you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating. Being distracted makes it easier for you to eat more than you’re supposed to as our brain doesn’t really register it, even when we’ve passed the threshold of being full. The next time you’re about to settle down in front of a screen with a bag of snacks, stop and measure out a proper serving instead so that you don’t run the risk of overeating. Or, avoid eating in front of a screen altogether.
Understanding the signals your body is sending you can help you to make better and healthier decisions. Once you begin to understand what your body really means when it tells you that it’s hungry, you can consider taking that extra step to learn how to eat better as well.
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.
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