You’re sitting somewhere, it’s quiet, a waiting room, a work meeting, in class, and then it happens……the noise of the stomach growl! You try to fidget around to muffle the sound, but it’s too late. We’ve all been there, and as much as we may feel embarrassed, it’s more uncomfortable because the reason is you’re hungry.
Hunger is a chemical reaction our bodies go through to let us know it’s time to eat.
Our brains, specifically the hypothalamus (the brain area that controls hunger and thirst), control this reaction and our hunger cues. This reaction signals to us that it’s time to eat, and in some cases, it signals us to eat when we are not hungry, and other factors may be at play.
So, what are some causes as to why our brains will signal that we are hungry in the first place to our stomachs? Let’s take a look:
- Stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can promote hunger and food cravings. According to 2 studies by the NIH (National Institutes of Health), those who had higher levels of stress and/or were exposed to stress during the day ate more and craved more sweets.
- Lack of fiber in your diet. Fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables take longer to digest and make you feel fuller longer. When we lack proper fiber daily, our bodies can constantly be signaling to us we are hungry.
- You are not drinking enough water. Staying properly hydrated can help control and reduce appetite, including cravings. In one NIH study, participants who drank 2 cups of water before a meal ate fewer calories than those who didn’t drink any water. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so when you feel hungry, try drinking at least 1-2 cups of water and see if that was the culprit.
- Your diet is too low in fat. However, not all fats are unhealthy. Making sure your intake consists of healthy fats, like avocado, nuts, and olive oil, help you feel satisfied longer and aids in healthier, slower digestion.
- You’re not eating enough protein. Protein plays a role in appetite control by producing and releasing hormones that make you feel full and more satisfied with your meal or snack and, in turn, reduces the hormones that make you feel hungry. Both plant and animal sources of protein can provide this effect.
- You’re eating too many refined carbs. Refined carbs lack fiber, such as white bread and cookies, and when we consume these foods, they are digested faster and cause blood sugar fluctuations, which makes us feel hungry in a shorter amount of time.
- Lack of and poor sleep habits. Poor sleep and being sleep deprived will cause fluctuations in hunger hormones, which leads to feeling hungry more frequently.
- Distracted eating. When we are rushing through a meal, we tend not to be aware of how much we are eating and hunger cues that tell us we are getting full. As a result, we make poorer food choices this way as well, and then as the day goes on, we may always feel hungry.
Try to stay mindful each day by listening to your hunger cues and taking the time to eat well-balanced snacks and meals; it will help with satiety and avoid overeating throughout the day.
Some medications and medical issues can cause changes in appetite, so go for your regular yearly checkups and be proactive about your health. Remember that growl will happen occasionally, but you want to feed your body correctly cause it to maintain overall good health!
Food and Fitness Pro provides detailed health advice that produces actual results. Call today, and we’ll schedule a registered dietician to focus on your body’s demands.