Ever have those days when you eat and eat and just can’t seem to stay satisfied? You’re starving just a couple short hours after a big meal when normally you would feel fine for half the day. When these bouts of ravenous hunger strike, it’s easy to feel confused about the signals your body is sending. How do you know if you should eat more or if there’s something else your body is trying to tell you? Here are some reasons to get you started so the next time you just can’t put down your fork, you can at least stop to ask yourself the real reason your body is telling you it’s hungry.
- You’re thirsty: Way back when we were all still swinging in the trees, a million years ago, the most convenient way for us to get water was through fruit. That instinct has stuck with us, so sometimes when you’re even just a little dehydrated, your brain will tell you to eat. It may even send you strong sugar cravings (fruit being sweet and all). Plus, dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish. When this happens, just like when you’re sleep deprived, your body turns to food for fuel. So next time you’re mysteriously hungry, try drinking a glass of water first to see how you feel. If thirst was the real reason you were hungry, you’ll feel satisfied right away.
- You’re bored: Eating food releases the happy brain chemical, dopamine. When we’re bored, we crave that happy, entertained feeling and usually the fastest and easiest way to get it is by snacking. We evolved this little trick so that when the human race was struggling to win survival of the fittest, we wouldn’t forget to eat. However, that reminder is a little outdated, so if you’re bored, get your kicks from somewhere other than the fridge. Learn to knit or read a book. Even better, a quick workout gives you a very similar happy, dopamine dose.
- You’re stressed: Stress can increase appetite because you’re going to need to eat after running away from that saber toothed tiger all day long. Or at least that’s what your body thinks you’ve been doing while you’ve been in an email-checking, errand-running, kid-chasing, boss-obeying frenzy all day. So, before you run to the kitchen, assess your stress levels. Have you been holding your breath for the last 8 hours? Allow yourself to exhale and then deeply inhale. Meditate or engage in other stress-relieving practices. Chances are, the food you would have chosen to relieve your stress will only make you feel worse in the long run anyway. Might as well turn to an activity that will definitely make you feel better.
- You’re on certain meds: A common side effect of many prescription medications can be increased appetite. Dr. George Blackburn, associate director of the Harvard Medical School Division of Nutrition, said that in the last 20 years, the number of prescription meds that can cause hunger has increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4. If you feel like you’re starving on your medication, talk to your doctor about other medication options. And in the meantime, if you absolutely must eat, go for healthy, high-fiber, whole foods that will fill you up for fewer calories.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: Glass of Water by Greg Reigler. Used under a creative commons license.
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.