I was standing in front of my open fridge the other night. I thought I was hungry, but I didn’t know what I was hungry for. After several minutes, I grabbed some sliced cheese and wolfed it down. Just a few minutes later, I thought, “I really didn’t need that.”
During times of stress, uncertainty, sadness, or life transition, we often need ways to cope and even self-medicate. Some people turn to alcohol, spending, or any other vice. Mine is food.
I know I’m not alone. I’ve dealt with this almost my whole life, and my weight has suffered more often than I care to admit. However, unlike other vices, heroin, for example, we can’t quit food. I’ve had to learn several tactics to identify my hunger triggers and realize when my hunger wasn’t genuine hunger, but something else.
Am I just thirsty instead of hungry?
I’m horrible at hydrating throughout the day, even though I know that drinking plenty of water maintains brain function, keeps skin healthy, and promotes heart health. It also helps weight loss because it reduces appetite, especially if you drink a couple glasses before a meal. My strength trainer once told me that I should strive to drink twice my weight in ounces.
Do I eat too many refined carbs?
You can find refined or processed carbs in white-flour foods like pasta and bread. Other baked goods like cake and cookies contain refined carbs, as do candy and soda. The refining process depletes food of their vitamins, fiber, and minerals, all of which can maintain a healthy weight. I admit I still prefer white flour in my pancakes. Wheat pancakes taste like potholders. Gross.
Am I getting enough protein?
If you want to feel more full throughout the day, make sure you get enough protein, which has appetite-reducing properties. Although I eat vegetarian most of the time, I don’t shy away from meat-based protein; chicken is my favorite. If you’re strictly a no-meat person, go for nuts, legumes, whole grains, and seeds.
Do I take the low-fat thing too far?
We’ve been trained to fear fat in our diets; on the contrary, eating a healthy amount of fat keeps us feeling full. This is because fat takes longer to digest. I like healthy-fat foods like avocados, dark chocolate, cheese, and eggs–yolk and all. Besides, if you’re obsessed with buying foods with the low-fat label, the manufacturers have likely traded in that fat for more sugar to make it taste good.
Do I make like Cookie Monster when I eat?
I’ve inhaled food plenty of times. What’s disappointing is when you look down at your plate or bowl and realize how little you actually enjoyed it. I like eating with at least one other person; that way, I slow down and actually savor the flavors. I also won’t be raiding the fridge later in the day.
Am I stressed out?
Excess stress often means excess cortisol, a stress hormone our adrenal glands release. Cortisol is necessary when we face genuinely stressful circumstances because it helps trigger a response that helps us get out of dangerous situations. However, that extra cortisol, when not used, leads to high blood pressure and weight gain.
Do I get enough sleep?
That’s a resounding “no” for me most of the time. It’s common for people to say they don’t get enough sleep, which can lead to harmful effects down the road. One of them is unnecessary hunger. When we get adequate sleep, our bodies can better regulate ghrelin, a hormone that naturally spurs appetite. When we lose sleep, our ghrelin levels increase, and so does hunger.
Excessive hunger should mean that our bodies are screaming for more nutrition. What I’ve covered are the non-hunger hunger triggers that affect me. For more reasons why you might be hungry, go to Healthline for more useful information and tips. What hunger triggers do you sometimes have? Leave a comment below.
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