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Why We Constantly Feel Hungry

Many of us are probably familiar with the feeling of constant hunger. It usually happens when you’ve just eaten but continue to dream about your next snack. And as it turns out, there’s a reason why we feel hungry so often.

5-Minute Crafts tried to find out more about why we feel hungry and what illnesses cause a constant feeling of hunger.

❗ Important: This article is for informative purposes only and can’t replace the recommendations of experts.

Types of hunger

It’s important to understand if you really are hungry.

Hunger may be physical, emotional, or a combination of both. And sometimes it’s really hard to tell one from the other.

  • Physical hunger
    Real hunger can occur within 2-4 hours after your last meal. It can be accompanied by stomach growling, a drop in energy, and anxiety. When the stomach is empty, it contracts, and we feel hunger. At such moments, the blood sugar levels dip, and the stomach produces the ghrelin hormone that makes us want to eat.
  • Emotional hunger
    This type of hunger has no connection to a real need for food, and there are no physical signs. We feel emotional hunger due to certain emotions, food preferences, and tension. At such moments, we want something sweet, salty, or crunchy.

Further in this article, we’re going to talk about the most popular causes of constant hunger.

An unbalanced diet

In order to function properly, our body needs protein, fats, and carbs. When eaten together, they don’t only nourish our body, but they also keep us full. But if you eat too many carbs, they will first cause a sudden rise and then a dip in your blood sugar level, which leads to hunger.

When you include protein with a complex carbohydrate, it slows down the rate of glucose. It makes you more satisfied.

Remember that protein isn’t exclusively found in meat. You can also get it from yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, fish, beans, tofu, seeds, and nuts.

A lack of healthy fats in your diet can make you crave carbohydrates and foods rich in sugar. Try eating more fats to decrease your appetite.

Refined carbs

Foods rich in refined carbs, such as white flour, white rice, candy, and baked goods can make you hungry.

This is because they increase the blood sugar level very quickly, and when it drops, we feel hungry again.

Lack of fiber

Foods rich in fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and oats, help release appetite-reducing hormones. Plus, fiber expands in your stomach, making you feel full.

So, if you are constantly hungry, try eating more fiber.

The mistakes we make when eating

  • We get distracted.
    Mindless eating is when you don’t realize how much and what you eat. And our brain doesn’t register this eating. It usually happens when you eat chips, snacks, or donuts while watching TV.
  • We eat too fast.
    The body needs around 20 minutes to feel full. When we eat slowly, chewing the food well, our brains and bodies are satisfied. When we eat quickly, that doesn’t happen.
  • We eat too little.
    We may be hungry because we’re eating too little in an attempt to lose weight.

Lack of water

We often think we are hungry when we actually want to drink. People don’t always understand the difference between hunger and thirst. Enough water during the day will keep us hydrated and prevent overeating.

But remember that not all liquids keep us hydrated. A big caramel latte with whipped cream not only has extra calories, but it can also dehydrate you.

Bad sleep

Sleep is crucial for the body to function well, so we should sleep 7-9 hours a day. A lack of sleep can lead to extra weight gain.

This is because sleep helps regulate the appetite. And a lack of sleep makes us hungry.

Emotions

Emotional stress can lead to feelings of hunger. When we are anxious or tense, our bodies release the cortisol hormone. This makes us hungry.

At such moments, people want to eat something with a lot of sugar, fat, or both. This is the body’s attempt to shut down the part of the brain that causes us to worry.

Pregnancy

Many moms-to-be notice a huge growth in appetite. This is your body’s way of making sure the baby gets enough nutrients to grow.

Most women gain between 4 and 6 pounds during the first 3 months. And then 1 pound a week during the second and third trimesters.

Meds

Some meds can make us feel hungry, like, for example:

  • Antihistamines
  • Steroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Some medications for diabetes and others

If you eat more after you’ve started new meds, it’s best to consult your doctor.

Diabetes

Certain diseases can cause an increase in hunger. One of them is diabetes.

Typically, our bodies turn sugar from the food we eat into fuel, which we call glucose. But in people with diabetes, glucose can’t reach the cells. So, people want to pee more often and eat more sugar. People with type 1 diabetes can eat a lot and still lose weight.

Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar can make us feel hungry. The condition when glucose drops to a very low level is called hypoglycemia. This is common for people with diabetes, but it can be caused by other health issues.

For example:

  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disorders
  • Neuroendocrine tumors in the pancreas
  • Problems with your adrenal or pituitary glands

Aside from hunger, low blood sugar can include symptoms like anxiety, feeling like your heart is skipping a beat, pale skin, sweating, and tingling around the mouth.

Thyroid problems

An elevated appetite can also be caused by problems with the thyroid.

The thyroid produces hormones that control the speed of work of every organ in our body. If the thyroid works too hard, it can cause hyperthyroidism, and an elevated appetite is one of the symptoms.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include an increased heartbeat, anxiety, sweating, muscle weakness, and thirst even after drinking.

Exercising

When we exercise, our bodies burn calories like fuel. It increases metabolism — the process of how our bodies use energy. This is why people eat more when they are physically active.

Body recovery

People often feel hungrier after diets. In this case, eating more is the body’s way to recover.

You may also feel hungry if you were sick a short time ago. In this way, the body is trying to regenerate tissue.

Jet lag

Jet lag can often mess with your circadian rhythm and make you hungry.

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