You get hungry because your body is telling you that you need more fuel to keep operating at a high level. Sometimes we feel hungry when we have enough nourishment. And enjoying a treat from time to time purely for pleasure is normal. When overeating and constant grazing become a habit your body gets used to larger amounts of food leaving you feeling hungry before you need to re-fuel.
The tricky thing is that there are many different reasons for overeating. Some are very simple to solve while others take patience and more diligence on your behalf. Understanding why you have these cravings is the first step in stopping them!
Here are some common sources of overeating:
– This gets overlooked often, but if you are not sleeping a healthy amount (7-9 hours) per night your hormone production gets out of balance. Leptin is the main hormone responsible for your appetite, it is responsible for energy management and suppressing your appetitie by making you feel satiated. Leptin production decreases when tired, which will make you feel more hungry the next day.
Thirst- Thirst gets confused for hunger very often! If you have recently eaten and are feeling hungry try drinking a large glass of water and see how you’re feeling in 20 minutes. There is a high probability you were just thirsty so the water will hydrate you, and put some volume in your stomach, making the hunger feeling pass.
Eating the wrong kinds of food- This one is important too, if you eat a lot of simple carbs your blood sugar levels will quickly spike and then drop again. Your body will want to maintain that energy so you will feel hungry not long after you have eaten. Try adding in lean protein sources and food fats to slow down the release of energy and reduce the cravings.
Increasing your workout intensity- If you have recently begun training harder you may notice you have more of an appetite. If this is going on it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs. If your aim is to burn body fat ensure you’re getting enough lean protein so you feel satisfied and ready to tackle your next workout!
Eating out of boredom or habit – There are two things to consider with habitual eating. First, you may have a habit of munching while in a specific place, or doing a specific thing. Ex. Rummaging around your fridge while the laundry is being washed or always stopping for a caramel frappucino when by your favourite Starbucks. Second, your body is on a schedule with its food intake and this is normal. However, sugar is addictive. So, if you have a sweet something the same time everyday (dessert is a perfect example) you may have a craving for sweet things the next day. If you continue to eat sweet somethings your body will crave it, even if you’re full and nutritionally satisfied. This is a tricky habit to kick but being aware of it is the first step. You can replace it with a healthy alternative, like fresh fruit or a walk outside!
Emotional eating- Emotional eating is very common, so common many people don’t realize they’re doing it! If you’re eating when depressed, stressed or anxious you can consider alternative ways of dealing with these emotions such as exercise, reducing your stressors and/or speaking with someone about how you’re feeling.