Why am I SO hungry all the time?
You’ve just had a double cheeseburger and large fries for lunch, but are still hungry so reach for a packet of chips. A couple of hours later, your appetite is insatiable, and you reach for a bowl of fruit loops and cordial. After all this… you’re still hungry?!
It happens to the best of us, we eat crappy foods, feel crappy and then eat more crappy foods. One big crapathon. It’s that feeling when you’ve eaten half the house, but still feel like you could eat the other half.
There are a ridiculous amount of reasons why we’re constantly hungry, and we’re going to delve into a few in this article. Hyperphagia, also known as Polyphagia, is when someone has an abnormally great desire for food, which nearly always leads to excessive eating. Whilst most of you reading this might think, “Hey, that’s me,” think again.
People with hyperphagia may keep eating until they are so bloated they physically cannot eat at all, or they will eat until they throw up. It is a serious eating disorder, and if you honestly feel like you fit the description I would highly suggest a visit to your local GP.
For the rest of us, we overeat for a number of reasons.
There are two types of people in this world – those who eat and eat and eat when they’re anxious, and those who do not eat at all. I know when I’m stressed or anxious, I eat everything in sight. My diet goes down the drain, and so does any dignity when it comes to food.
When we’re stressed, we reach for the easiest and most convenient foods. Nine times out of ten, these tend to be processed, artificially flavoured foods that we wouldn’t normally consumes. Numerous studies have shown that both emotional and physical distress increases our intake of sugars and fats. When we ingest these unhealthy foods, they have a feedback effect on the brain that produces additional stress and emotions.
To conquer overeating when you’re stressed, try and cut up some fresh fruit or nuts to snack on. Take five minutes to meditate, and focus on the problem. Try and remind yourself that the giant mars bar you’re about to consume will amplify your stress, and will not help it in any way.
We live in a society that doesn’t drink nearly enough water. We take our water for granted, and have grown up in a world where a lack of access to fresh water has never been a problem. When we are dehydrated, we can succumb to a sluggish, fatigued feeling, which makes the body turn to calories for fuel.
You may think you’re hungry, when in reality you’re just thirsty. If you’ve just eaten a massive meal and feeling you’re still starving, have a glass of water and wait ten minutes. Still hungry? Go ahead and eat, but you’ll find that the hunger pangs will often disappear after the wait.
Invest in a good water bottle. Spend more than $5 on a cheap plastic one, and invest in a glass one that will last. It sounds silly, but I find if I have a water bottle that I like and find visually appealing, I’m more likely to bring it to places, and therefore drink from it.
YOU’RE EATING THE WRONG FOODS
Ever had that feeling after eating a massive meal at McDonalds, a large sundae and an apple pie and you’re still starving? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. There are so many people who’s diets largely consist of processed foods and empty calories these days, that most of us are walking around unaware of the absolute garbage we are pumping into our bodies.
Think about what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Does it involve protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates? Next time you go to tuck into a big lasagne or steak, make sure you eat your greens! Foods like kale, spinach and collard greens are rich in folate (Vitamin B12), which help brain functions and also means clearer skin.
The most important meal of the day is easily breakfast, and I can’t emphasise this enough. Having a brekkie that includes protein will make a large impact on your day. Protein will keep you fuller for longer, and also makes you less prone to reaching for sugary/fatty foods later on through the day. Next time you’re about to grab a box of sugary cereal, think again. Reach for two eggs, spinach and rye toast, or if you’re short on time, prepare a smoothie the night before filled with banana, greek yoghurt and extra protein.
Our brains are always looking for stimulation, something that will entertain us and keep us from twiddling our thumbs. Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, plays an extremely important role in the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. When we’re not mentally stimulated and not producing dopamine, our brains will look for anything to keep up entertained.
Even eating can produce a small rush of adrenaline, which means we feel good about eating. That is, until we stop and become bored again. Rather than reaching for snacks that you really don’t need, desire or want, next time try to think why am I bored?
Grab the closest book and have a read; so many of us have forgotten the joy in reading paperback books. Go outdoors and take your dog, aunty, neighbour or anyone for a walk and enjoy the sun and fresh air. If you find that you are working in a space where you can’t leave, it’s important to focus on the food you’re snacking on.
Have almonds, fresh fruit and water on hand to snack on the next time you’re bored –you’ll find they fill you up faster and will tide you over until your next meal.