Eating is what brings most of the joy to the holiday season (or at least for me it does). All the amazing foods seem to pile up so quickly, and there’s so many leftovers to be snacked on. But have you ever stopped to think, “why am I eating so much?” or “why am I always so hungry?” There are many factors that could be contributing to answering these questions.
A big part of why you’re always hungry is due to what you’re eating. Many people don’t get the right amounts of fat, protein, or fiber in their diet to regulate their hunger. Getting the appropriate amount of fat (healthy fat from things like fish, eggs, and nuts) in your diet can help suppress hunger since they take longer to digest. High protein diets can increase the body’s levels of leptin. Leptin is the hormone that is associated with satiety and feeling full. Additionally, fiber slows down how fast food gets digested. This means that your stomach empties itself slower, leaving you less time out of the day feeling like you need to fill it back up.
On top of just what you’re eating, how you’re eating can also contribute to your constant hunger. Simply eating a solid breakfast, eating slower, and eating solid foods can all help you regulate your cravings throughout the day. Eating a substantial breakfast steadies your blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day. When your blood sugar levels get too low, your body takes this as a sign that it needs to eat. People who eat fast are less aware of how much they are consuming. By slowing down the pace at which you eat food, you still get full while eating less. People who get their nutrients through liquid foods like protein shakes, smoothies, soup, etc. eat more often because that liquid food gets processed more quickly than solid foods. This means you may be hungry again sooner than if you ate solid foods.
Outside factors like lack of sleep, stress, and social media can all contribute to your increased need to eat. Getting less sleep creates an imbalance in ghrelin and leptin levels. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes you feel hungry while leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. Also, when you sleep less, you’re simply awake for longer, increasing the chances that you’ll get hungry and impulsively snack. Stress eating is a real thing, as well. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which makes you crave all the sugary, fatty, and salty foods that you try not to eat. Lastly, social media accounts for “food porn” have become increasingly popular. When people see these glamorous pictures of food, it triggers their cravings for those types of foods or just makes them hungry for whatever they can get their hands on.
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