Understanding Hunger

Are you hungry because it’s a scheduled mealtime? Or is your body really signaling for fuel? We are presented with endless opportunities to eat, but that doesn’t mean we are always hungry. Our bodies rely on food for fuel, so it’s important to provide them with the right type and quantity of food at the right times; not because you feel like it or because there is nothing else to do. Understanding the reason for your hunger will help keep those hunger pangs at bay.

Hunger to any degree is a sign your body needs more food. It’s an indication from your body that it is depleted of fuel and needs replenished. But sometimes hunger goes a step further and with it comes irritability. When this happens, one is past the point of hungry. They are now hangry! They’ve crossed into dangerous territory when this happens.

And all too often this is me! If I say I’m hungry, then it’s too late. I should have been fed ten minutes ago. Trust me, I am not the best version of myself when hangry. Nothing I say or do should be held against me. I’m always a better friend when fed. Actually – I’m a better human in general when fed. Whatever the reason may be, when I’m hangry, I’ve allowed myself to go too long without fuel and my body sends strong signals of FEED ME NOW!

Besides the obvious reason of not providing your body with enough food, there are many other reasons that may be cause hunger. A few of those reasons include, 1) Boredom – eating for the sake of eating is not actual hunger. Just because your time is not occupied with an activity or have something to keep you entertained, does not mean eating needs to become the activity to occupy your available time. Instead, try taking a walk, organizing a drawer, or getting lost on Pinterest. Placing your time and focus onto something else gives your body time to signal if it is in fact hungry or if the need to eat is only because you have nothing else to do; 2) Lack of Sleep – not getting enough zzzzz’s can lead you to having a bigger appetite and finding it harder to feel full. This happens because hormones in the body responsible for controlling hunger are affected by lack of adequate rest; 3) Not Eating enough Fat (the good kind of fat) – consuming an adequate amount of fat in your diet (think nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, etc.) plays a key role in helping you feel satisfied for a longer period after meals/snacks;  4) More H2O – often times thirst is confused for hunger. Drinking 1-2 glasses of water when the hunger feeling start can lessen the hunger pangs and allow you to time to gauge if you are truly hungry or were only thirsty; 5) Distracted Eating – lack of awareness of when your eating and how much your consuming could lead to not noticing when your body is sending you full signals; 6) Drinking Calories – consuming calories through liquids such as sugary coffee drinks, soda, sweet tea, juices, smoothies, and etc. are all putting empty calories into your body. There is zero nutritional value in these type of liquid calories and will leave you hungry even though you’ve consumed calories; 7) Stress – feelings of stress can cause an increase to your appetite and promote cravings for empty-calorie snacks such as chips, soda, or cookies; 8) Eating too Fast – it has been studied that fast eaters have a greater appetite than those that control the pace of their eating. Eating your food in a rush doesn’t allow the mind enough time to send signals conveying fullness; 9) Medical Conditions – diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, depression, anxiety, or PMS are all conditions that share the symptom of hunger; 10) And last but not least the most obvious reason – Eat More – simply put your hunger could be a signal from your body that it needs more food to function how you expect it to.

Honor your body by understanding your hunger.

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