6 Reasons Why You’re Always Hungry
Is your appetite insatiable? A nutritionist looks at potential causes.
Have you ever had one of those days when you eat lunch and feel hungry an hour later (and then an hour later after that)? It’s not just a coincidence that you’re ravenous at times. Certain habits or health conditions may be contributing to your constant need to eat. But the good news is that knowing the trigger for your hunger will make put a stop to overeating before it starts. That’s why it’s crucial to avoid these common pitfalls that will keep your tummy rumbling all day.
You’re not eating healthy fats.
It’s time to stop fearing fat, especially since eating “good fats” positively affects satiety. “Healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fatty acids found in olives, avocado, and nuts, help to keep you fuller longer so you won’t constantly feel hungry and tired,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. She recommends including a source of healthy fat with each meal and snack. “One of my favorite on-the-go snacks providing these filling fats is Pearls Olives to Go! Black Pitted Olives. Each single-serve container offers about eight olives full of filling fats for just 30 calories,” Gorin adds. Whether it’s an extra drizzle of olive oil on your salad, avocado on your morning toast or salmon for dinner, embrace the fat!
You’re skimping on sleep.
Everyone knows they need more sleep, but very few people make the effort to adjust their sleep habits. However, this simple act can have so many positive effects on your life, from increasing energy levels to keeping hunger in check. Research suggests that sleep deprivation alters the hormones that control appetite regulation and make you feel hungrier throughout the day. What can you do to make sleep more of a priority? Although it may sound counterintuitive, Gorin suggests exercising when you feel tired to increase energy, put hunger at bay and sleep more soundly at night. Also, set a bedtime for yourself, pick up a white noise machine and humidifier and read a book to lull yourself to sleep. Your stomach will thank you.
You consume too many artificial sweeteners.
For years, we’ve been sold the message that “diet” foods are healthier than their sugar and fat-filled counterparts. Yet, most diet foods contain artificial sweeteners, and recent research indicates that these additives may increase feelings of hunger. For those who have a Diet Coke habit, this may be the saddest news of all. It’s best to try to kick the habit all together, but if that seems daunting, try replacing diet sodas with seltzer and a splash of 100% fruit juice. That combo still offers the same bubbles and sweet taste without the hunger-inducing fake sugar.
Anyone who has dealt with stress (who hasn’t?) can tell you that one of the first reactions is to eat incessantly. While part of this is emotional, the other part is actually physiological. During times of duress, the body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your desire to eat. Research has found that many people tend to consume more calories when stressed than when calm. For the sake of your health and waistline, try to reduce stress with exercise, journaling or yoga.
Often times, dehydration masks itself as hunger. In turn, this can cause you to eat excess calories when all you really need is some water. The best way to tell whether or not you’re properly hydrated is to check the color of your urine. A pale yellow color indicates proper hydration, while a dark apple cider vinegar color means you may be dehydrated. In those cases, try drinking water before you sit down for a meal. “Also incorporate lots of produce into your day — after all, many fresh fruits and vegetables are 90 percent or more water! I like to add asparagus to my omelets, berries to my oatmeal, and broccoli to my stir-fries,” says Gorin.
If your hunger never subsides, you may have a medical condition.
If you’re doing everything right, but you still want to eat constantly, then it may be time to have a conversation with your doctor. Certain medical conditions, like diabetes or an over-active thyroid may cause you to feel ravenous and eat more than you should. With the right diagnosis and proper treatment, that incessant hunger should subside.