You’ve started a diet to drop those five pounds before beach and pool party season but find yourself starving around 3 pm every day or maybe you feel the pangs of hunger when you watch your favorite TV show or at the movies.
Why are we always hungry, even if we’ve eaten a meal just an hour ago?
According to a recent CNN report, hunger is impacted by what we eat, the hormones that regulate our appetite, and emotional factors like stress, which reduces our serotonin levels, which can leave us feeling starved even if we aren’t.
And your mother was right. When you quickly devour that burger, you don’t even register you’ve eaten those 1,200 calories due to release of hormones, which take some time to register that you are full.
You’re Confusing Thirst with Hunger
You reach for a bag of pretzels when you’re really thirsty. The hypothalamus in the brain regulates both hunger and thirst and when you’re dehydrated, the signals get crossed. When you’re feeling hungry but haven’t had a drink in a while, drink a bottle of water and wait fifteen or twenty minutes before eating.
How many times have you hit that 3 pm wall and grabbed a candy bar as a pick me up? Again, hormones are at play. If you haven’t had a restful sleep, levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, increase and levels of leptin, which signals you’re full, decrease. Also, when you feel the need for that 8-hour energy boost, you’re more likely to crave that donut or bag of chips. Try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night.
That huge plate of pasta or super-sized fries may leave you exhausted. Digesting refined carbs causes your blood sugar to spike and drop, which leaves you feeling hungry for more. Snack on almonds, pistachios, or even Chia instead of that bagel.
Deadlines, bills, and an overbooked schedule may lead you to the cookie jar for some comfort but also impact levels of adrenalin and cortisol, which are the body’s protective mechanism to gear you up for a fight. Stress also decreases serotonin levels, which also leaves you hankering for that brownie. Take a yoga class or a walk to decompress.
After you’ve had a couple drinks, it’s easy to dip into the wings or order an extra large pizza with all the toppings. Your resistance to caloric foods may be down and alcohol also leaves you dehydrated. Be sure to drink a glass of water along with that glass of wine or martini and have a salad or healthier options available.
Whether you’re busy at your desk or decide to skip breakfast and lunch to save calories for dinner at your favorite spot, going four or five hours without food increases your levels of ghrelin, which send you packing for the nearest candy bar. If you’re banking calories for a later splurge, stick with lighter meals focused on vegetables and be sure to eat something within an hour of waking, even if a hard boiled egg or some plain yogurt.
Don’t Skip the Fat or Protein
Dining on dry lettuce leaves won’t leave you satisfied. Women between 19-70 benefit from 46 g of protein per day while men should aim for 56 g. Focus on lean proteins Heart healthy fats like oils, nuts, and avocado also keep you satisfied. Top that salad with a slice of avocado or some olive oil and vinegar.