Why am I always hungry?

overeating emotional eating weight loss

If you always seem to feel hungry, you are not alone!

There are many reasons to feel hungry. Of course, the most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry. Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.

But other times, the hunger may not be physical hunger. It may be a craving or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, boredom or a myriad of other things going on in your life.

It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.

Let’s talk about the difference between both of these types of hunger, and give you some tips on how to figure out which is which.

Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger

Your “physical” hunger is regulated by the body through your hunger hormones to ensure your survival. You don’t want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time because you might get so weak that you’re unable to go hunting (yep, your physiology still thinks you hunt Wildebeast!) So, you’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. This can be triggered by your stomach being empty or your blood sugar dropping too low.

“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s based on a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery. It’s not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.

So, here’s how to tell which is which.

Six steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not

1 – The first thing you need to do is stop!  Take a pause to evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.

2 – Now that you’ve stopped. Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Are you using food as a diversion from a task you don’t want to do?  Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention.

3 – Have a big glass of water. Wait 5 minutes and see if you still think you’re hungry?

4 – Now observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. If your feelings are the source of the hunger then you may be using food to avoid an uncomfortable feeling, admitting that you’re sad or lonely isn’t a great feeling but being uncomfortable doesn’t hurt you, covering those feelings in chocolate and ice-cream just might!

Sit with the uncomfortable feeling for a minute, acknowledge it and let it pass.  It will, I promise.  Try some deep breathing or go for a walk and think about the emotion.  The more you do this, the weaker that signal to swallow your emotions with food will get.

5 – If you’re sure it’s not emotion and your body really physically needs food then take the time to find something nutritious and healthy to eat.  If you’re craving something processed and full of sugar it’s a clue that it’s not physical hunger but back to those emotions again.

To fill you up the food you eat should be high in protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it.

6 – Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.

Conclusion

The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for!

But often, there can be an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.

Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually physically needs and you’ll find it easier to manage your weight and eat for good health.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ghrelin/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/dealing-with-mysterious-hunger

https://authoritynutrition.com/18-ways-reduce-hunger-appetite/