Are You Really Hungry For Food? Or Is It A Habit?

Have you ever found yourself eating or snacking when you are not hungry or overeating when you’re not really hungry?

Did you get bloated and wracked with guilt and promise yourself that it will not happen again; that you will take control of what goes inside your mouth?

Before, you get down to fulfilling your promise to yourself, you have to find out why you get hungry and need to eat at all.

Why do you eat? Could It be because the food is there, you don’t want to waste it , you don’t want to make your friends or your mum angry, are you eating mindlessly in front of a screen or do you just love what you’re eating that you keep shoveling it down even when you know you should stop?

The main reason we eat is that we get hungry because we need energy to live and that energy mostly comes from the food we eat.

The energy you get from your meals only lasts for some hours before the nutrients and energy from it is exhausted, and your body craves more energy to meet up with the demand of your activity.

This demand triggers activity in your stomach that ends with the brain sending a signal to you that is interpreted as hunger, so you eat.

When you eat, the food is broken down to fuel the different activities that keep you alive like breathing, talking, moving, working and other body functions.

But, sometimes, it’s not really food that you’re body needs at the time you feel hungry

Most times hunger pangs is our bodies way of telling us that it needs something or that something is not the way it should be.

Food is not just fuel for the body. It also affects our minds and brings us a certain amount of energy, pleasure and satisfaction.

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Craving is different from Hunger.

Whenever you eat something you really like, your brain releases pleasure hormones like dopamine. Your body remembers this feeling of pleasure from that food and makes you want to eat it again so it can experience that pleasure again, even when you’re not hungry: that is craving

For food craving: you desire a particular kind of food. It’s not a matter of hunger, it’s just a desire for a particular food and you’ll eat it even if you’re stuffed. Craving for food is not really about chocolate; it’s sugar. Anything sweet, salty solid or liquid will serve the purpose.

Any time you start feeling hungry ask yourself:

Am I really hungry or is it a habit?

Check for signs of hunger. Sometimes, when you’re hungry for food your stomach growls, you have hunger pangs. And it’s normally some time from 1 hr to 3 hrs after your last meal. When you’re hungry, you are ready to eat anything as long as its food to satisfy that ache in your stomach.

It may leave you feeling weak, tired and with a headache.This signs show that you’re hungry for food.

However when you’re craving for something it may mean something else. I always crave for sugary drinks just after my period. Its not hunger.

When I discovered that my blood sugar drops just after my period, I changed my diet during that time and the craving stopped.

Craving could mean:

Hormonal issues

I don’t know about other women but I experience cravings towards the end of my period. I crave sweet drinks or really sweet biscuits. It only lasts or a day and its gone. At first I tried to fight it but I ended up even taking more.

So, now I have sweetened yogurt, sweet fruits like watermelon, and snacks like pop corn at home. And on that day, I start taking them as part of my meal for the day. Since I started doing that I’ve noticed that I’m not really aware and focused on the craving like before and I no longer eat what I don’t want when the craving comes.

When I was pregnant all I wanted on a daily basis was a particular burger from a popular fast food chain. The craving disappeared after the first trimester

Menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause cravings. Sometimes it is beyond our control, but we can always opt for healthier options to satisfy our cravings.

Nutritional deficiencies

Most people have one nutritional deficiency or the other. Our bodies need a variety of  nutrients in order to operate at its optimum capacity.

When we don’t supply our bodies with enough nutrients, it will send messages in the form of cravings.

Dehydration

When you’re thirsty your body sends signal that you’re thirsty but the thing is that most times the brain interprets the signal as hunger for food.

To make sure of what your body really needs, when you feel hungry drink water first and see how your body reacts. After some minutes, check if the hunger is still there, if it is, then eat something.

Eating as a source of comfort

Most times when we’re hurting, we turn to food. It’s a habit that we learnt during childhood.

When you throw a tantrum you are pacified with moms breast. As you get older, then food, then chocolate. You have a bad day food, a bad grades food, and even a heartbreak  food.

If you’re using food to comfort yourself, you have to stop and instead seek out friends who truly understands and wouldn’t judge you but lets you unburden. That’s way better than food.

Lack of fulfillment

Emotional, financial and work related stress, or unfulfilling career, lack of spiritual practice, may lead to emotional eating.

Excessive exercise routine

When you exercise, you use the energy stored in your body from your last meal as fuel. That means that you’ll need more energy in the form of food to replace the energy lost.

Even though exercise makes you hungry you can have things like fruits water and yogurt readily available and take them immediately after your exercise, when you’re still in control. Leaving it for a longer period will make you hungrier and drive you to eat what you may not want.

It is always good to look at all areas of your life and be aware that sometimes it’s not food that you desire but other forms of nourishment: love, inspiration, friendship, fulfilling career, movement, hobby or a feeling of belonging somewhere.

Next time when you feel like eating something and you don’t know if its hunger or craving; Take a moment and check what is really happening in your body and around you before you pick up a spoon.

AND….Your comments and questions keep me writing. Do leave them below and feel free to share the post with everyone

 

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Author: Nkeoma DND Agu

Hi, I'm Nkeoma DND Agu. A Nigerian Weight loss, Fitness and Nutrition Coach. I help you lose weight, get fit and crush at life, even if you're very busy.

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