I’ve been snacking like a crazy person lately. My activity level has increased so I may not be getting enough nutrients my body needs to function. In addition, I have been having headaches and my energy level has slumped tremendously, but I keep going. I know I’m drinking enough water, I think 3 to 4 liters is a substantial amount. So I started doing some research. I defiantly do not like this feeling. So here’s what I found….
Curbing your Hunger
Sometimes it just comes down to your diet or your mental state. Be sure to check in with these things first before you freak out about anything.
- Drink more water. So many people mistake hunger for thirst. Not only can drinking more water help you curb your hunger but it will make everything on your insides function more smoothly. I won’t tell you a set amount to drink because that depends a lot on your activity level and the climate in which you live. I will tell you that once you start drinking, you’ll get a better sense of how much you need. A good way to tell when you’re getting just the right amount of water is when your pee is a light yellow. If it’s clear you’re drinking too much; dark yellow you’re drinking not enough.
- Drop the diet. Seriously. If you’re always hungry one reason could be that you’re simply not eating enough. Diets also affect your psychological view of food. If you restrict your food intake your mind will always be thinking about the next meal, and will see food as a scarcity. Your primal instinct will kick in and you will binge. That is almost a certainty. Over 90% of diets fail….there’s a reason for that.
- Eat more nutrient-dense foods, and less carbs/sugars. Your body breaks carbs down into sugars, and sugars can give you a blood sugar spike which will make you crave more food. So, instead of having cereal for breakfast, try two eggs and a piece of wheat toast with some peanut butter. This sort of breakfast will keep you fuller longer. For a snack, instead of rice cakes, have some carrots with hummus or peanuts. Stop worrying about all the calories in foods like this and trust that you will actually eat less food impulsively if you eat more calories.
- Stop and think. If you are drinking enough water, getting enough calories, and making sure those calories are nutrient-rich and you are still hungry it is possible you’re not really hungry at all. Now, you’re probably thinking I’m freaking crazy. But the next time you are hungry, pause for a moment and breathe. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you’re just trying to deal with your emotions through food. I’ll tell you right now–I want to eat when I’m anxious, bored, or brainstorming. I’m almost always doing one of those things! Come up with something else to deal with those situations. A cup of tea usually works for me.
If you have tried all of that and still feel hungry all the time you may have something physically wrong with you. Now, I really don’t mean to scare you, and before you go running to the doctor at least try all of the above.
If you are under 18, you’re probably just going through a growth spurt. Eat, young grasshopper, and flourish.
For all the rest, if you tried everything and are still hungry you may want to go visit the doctor. Especially if you have changed nothing and yet your body feels drastically different. Here are some things that may contribute to your hungry feelings and if you have persistent problems you should go to the doctor.
Other Potential Reasons for Persistent Hunger
- Pregnancy! This one’s easy enough to test.
- Premenstrual syndrome – If you’re craving foods during the 5 to 11 days before your period it may just be PMS.
- Diabetes – Insulin is an anabolic hormone that encourages storage of fat and protein. Diabetes causes an insulin deficiency which leads to an increased appetite (because you’re not storing fat or protein) and weight loss even though you are eating a lot. And this isn’t the good kind of weight loss.
- Hyperthyroidism – The thyroid is a gland in your neck which produces hormones that regulate how your body uses energy. With hyperthyroidism, the gland releases too much hormone which causes your metabolism to work faster. As a result, you’ll be hungry more often. Grave’s Disease is the most frequent cause of hyperthyroidism.
- Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar is too low. This can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, taking Diabetes meds incorrectly, exercising, or not eating.
- Certain meds such as corticosteroids, cyproheptadine, and tricyclic antidepressants may increase your hunger.
(For more information on these see University of Maryland Medical Center.)
Although horror stories abound about intestinal parasites, if you are constantly hungry it’s probably something else. Parasites in the human body usually cause much more unpleasant things such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, gas, exhaustion, or weight loss. The infamous tapeworm may cause an increase in hunger but you can only really get it if you travel to a place with parasites or eat infect beef/pork. Unlikely.
Most people who are always hungry aren’t really always hungry at all. They are anxious, sad, happy, bored, or a million other possibilities. Learn to listen to your body and you will start to feel satiated more easily.