You have barely digested your breakfast and your next food fix is on your mind. The urge to eat right now can throw your good nutrition plan out the door, especially if it causes you to make poor food choices. But if you knew that often your mind and body conspire to trick you into thinking you are hungry, then you may be able to recognise the triggers and avoid a binge.
1. Lack of sleep – Too little sleep stimulates the hormone that triggers hunger signals in your brain. If you are getting less quality sleep than you are used to getting, then you may find that you are more likely to overeat. It could be your body’s way of trying to create energy that your sleep did not. That’s not an excuse to be late for work, mind you. Instead make up the sleep deficit on the other end by switching off your phone and getting to sleep a little earlier each night.
2. You are bombarded with food porn – Pinterest & Instagram make images of food even more seductive at the touch of your phone. And the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to be exposed to images of delicious treats that trigger your brain to stimulate the eating response. Hunger is primal and we feel hungry so that we can survive, but a lifetime of conditioning, from the time we are born teaches us to react to food and images of food.
3. You’re thirsty – Everyone knows this one but remember it because it’s true. The thirst centre & hunger centre sit next to each other in the brain. If you are somewhat dehydrated or in need of some water then you can often confuse this trigger for hunger. Next time you get an unscheduled hunger pang, down a glass of water and then re-address your hunger pang shortly after. The chances are you will be less inclined to binge.
4. You’re stressed out – Some people will drop pounds when stress kicks in, others will go the other way and pile on the pounds. One thing is certain, stress changes the way we feel and act around food. If you notice your behaviour around food has changed dramatically then it could be time to look at your lifestyle. If your stress levels are on the up, it’s important to get your nutrition in check, because the very food you reach for when you are under pressure like sugar, starch & even alcohol, is the very food that actually stresses your body even more.
5. You are on a diet that is way too restrictive – There are so many options when it comes to diets these days but one thing remains constant, you should never feel hungry whatever your diet of choice is. No reasonable diet plan should leave you feeling famished and lethargic. Your diet should nourish you with plenty of good, wholesome food that does not spike your insulin levels and does not require your body to go into extreme famine mode. If your hunger pangs relate to a recent diet you have embarked on, then you are going down a slippery slope that will probably end in a pile of sweet wrappers and a serious sugar coma. Time to regroup and start again, this time on a plan that’s not so extreme.
By our health and fitness expert, Milena Byrne