By Riham Shamseddine, Right Bite
What is hunger?
Hunger is the physical sensation or need for food. The appetite hormone is called ghrelin and when it’s in high concentrations, it triggers an extra need for food. Whether we are working individuals or stay-at-home moms, we have the tendency to skip meals and eat at irregular times, due to our busy lifestyles.
Myth or Fact?
Skipping meals will make me lose weight.
MYTH: The truth is that when we skip meals, especially breakfast, we start craving food, which is most often ready meals and unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar and fat. Hence, we start consuming large portions at dinner and our body can’t metabolize or burn what we eat.
In addition, breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it helps kick start our metabolism and helps our body break down the fat if we are trying to lose weight.
Consuming three meals and two healthy snacks a day prevents us from getting hungry and allows us to control our weight, whether we are trying to lower or maintain a healthy amount of weight.
Why am I always hungry?
Here are a few possible reasons behind feeling hungry throughout the day:
1. Irregular meal timings, skipping meals, and unbalanced meals
2. Lack of sleep: Lack of rest stimulates ghrelin, a hormone produced by our stomach that stimulates our appetite. Getting enough well-rested sleep, or an average of eight hours a night, is the best thing you can do to prevent overeating.
3. Eating balanced meals helps us feel less hungry throughout the day. Ideally, aim to include: low fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates (whole-grain bread, brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa, potato), and lean proteins (chicken breast, beef fillet, fish, salmon, tuna) to your meal plan.
4. Thirst or dehydration: sleepiness and low energy levels are the symptoms of dehydration, and are very similar to those of hunger. You may think you need to eat to increase your energy levels. When you’re thirsty, your mouth becomes dry, a symptom that eating will relieve for a while only. Try to drink a glass of water or decaffeinated herbal beverage and wait ten minutes until your body adjusts. You may save lots of needless calories!
5. Eating quickly: your brain needs at least 15 – 20 minutes to inform your body that you are full. So don’t think you are still hungry, or you will consume more amount of food. Eat slowly so that the appetite hormone will tell your brain you are full.
6. Emotional eating: Stress is one of the reasons why stress hormones Insulin and Cortisol increase and start looking for some comfort food. Before reaching the fridge or cupboard for unhealthy snacks, try to clear your mind with a 10-minute peaceful walk outside the office or house.
7. Social events: seeing and smelling food will trigger our appetite even if we already ate. Stay away from the buffet table, and snack on fresh vegetables crudités or a healthy drink (such as sparkling water with lemon and mint).
Last but not least, eating healthy and balancing your meals throughout the day will prevent you from getting hungry or craving needless food. Try to hang out with healthy friends, as the probability of eating mindlessly will increase if you’re spending your time with unhealthy buddies!