Why am I Hungry all the Time?


 Let’s start with a definition of two terms, hunger and appetite. Hunger is physiological meaning your body senses that you’re not eating enough,and tells you this by signaling your brain to cause you to eat. Appetite, on the other hand is a learned lifestyle or habit. There is a huge difference.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do so you make a decision to eat something. This is an example of appetite. You don’t need to eat, you decide to eat. Another example of appetite relates to set meal times. We generally develop the habit of eating at a certain regular times whether we really need to or not e.g. “It’s lunchtime, it’s time to eat”.  

 The trick is to learn to tell the difference between appetite and real hunger and then act on your new knowledge. In most cases when you say you like to eat all the time it’s psychological (appetite) rather than physical (hunger).

Here’s another example of appetie, not hunger. Ever wonder why desserts are always especially sweet or fatty and contain lots of calories? By the end of a typical large meal your body recognizes that you are full and turns off the hunger switch and activates the fullness feeling. Basically, there are four ways it can do this. Your stomach wall has stretch receptors that detect when it is full  or distended and these signal your brain which in turn turns tells you you’re full. The time you spend eating a meal is a factor also. Usually about 20 minutes into a meal your body signals your brain that you’re full. Your body monitors blood sugar level as well and when it reach a level of saturation, it sends a signal your brain to tell you to stop eating. Lastly your brain monitors nutrient levels and unless something is missing in your diet your brain will not direct you to consume more food.

Let’s go back to our examples. Now that your body has turned off the hunger switch, because of one of the four previous reasons tyou will eat more on;ly because you think something will taste good. We know from one of my earlier blog that small amounts of sweet fatty desserts are very dense in calories and therefore taste really good plus they contain lots of calories in small portions.

Try this sometime. Eat a full meal and then decide to eat vegetables or fruit for dessert. It’s not the same.

I have a couple of suggestions that will help you work your way through this. The Number one suggestion is to stay busy. This could be a hobby a job or something you particularly like doing. This will keep your mind off eating, plus activity will burn more calories. Staying busy also will give you a sense of accomplishment and therefore a better sense of self worth. If you have a good self-image you will also have a greater resolve to watch and limit what you eat making it easier to reach your goal.

The Number two suggestion is to start exercising. This not only burns extra calories but puts you in a mindset that strengthens your resolve to control your eating  As a side benefit exercise also creates a sense of well-being beyond anything else you can do physically.

Our bodies are equipped to tell us when were hungry and tell us when were full. When the system works we don’t add extra weight. So listen to your body. Eat slowly, and be aware of your body’s signals. You’ll find that this way you’ll be happier and healthier.

As you may have read in some of my earlier blogs I’ve stated that it doesn’t matter what time of day you consume your calories, their effect on your percent of body fat is the same. That is the truth; however there is a way to increase your metabolism simply by eating multiple and smaller meals daily.

The reason for this is a phenomenon called specific dynamic action or thermal effect of food. Simply put it’s the energy required to digest a meal.

There are muscles all along your digestive tract that contract in the process of digestion. From your jaw muscles through your esophagus, your stomach, and your intestines there is a caloric cost of moving and digesting a meal. Your stomach is especially involved. It has three groups of muscles designed to squeeze twist and compress a meal once it is in your stomach. These are muscles just like skeletal muscles. Well almost like skeletal muscles. They are constructed little differently however they do contract just like other muscles. From basic physiology we know that when a muscle contracts it uses energy or calories.

There is a caloric expense involved of between 20 and 30 cal per meal. So logically if you eat, say five meals a day your thermal effect of food would simply be 5×25 or 125 cal. If you ate only one meal a day you’d burn an extra 25 cal. That’s a difference of 100 cal a day. Over 30 days that’s nearly 1 pound of extra fat you would add following the one meal per day plan versus the five meals per day plan. Over a year, on the one meal per day plan that’s 10 pounds of fat you would add.

Given, that’s not a whole lot but using this information in conjunction with a lower total calorie diet, more activity and better food choices, you get a combined effect that is really the answer. We like to call this a lifestyle change.

There is another bonus for eating multiple meals. As a meal is digested your system extracts the various nutrients needed for maximum health. These nutrients circulate in your body for between two and three hours going round and round and exiting at the various cells where they’re needed. It stands to reason that if you eat five meals you get 10 to 15 hours of vital circulation (5x 2 to 3hrs.) feeding all your cells as opposed to just 2 to 3 hours on the one meal per day plan.

Your system is healthier when you get a more constant and enduring flow of nutrition feeding your cells rather than a shorter period of time each day.