No, it’s not because you “lack self-control.” If you always feel hungry and always have to put back the tub of ice cream, there are probably other factors in play.
Maintaining healthy eating rhythms is critical to feeling satisfied without battling constant cravings. There are two primary things to consider for healthy eating rhythms: the food, and everything in between. So many things can be contributing factors to feeling hungry and battling cravings!
Let’s take a look at some diet and lifestyle causes of hunger pangs, and what you might do to diminish those influences.
It isn’t just marketing from breakfast cereal companies. Eating the right breakfast is important for your overall health and your eating habits throughout the day. Of course, you need to eat the rightbreakfast, not just abreakfast.
Look for fruits, veggies if you can, good grains, and a good amount of liquid. Starting your day with water helps your organs and insides wake up and feel happy. Find ways to get hearty foods into your breakfast routine, and you won’t feel like you need sugar at 10:30 A.M..
Yes, not eating enough can be a cause of feeling constantly hungry. You might simply not be getting enough calories during critical times of the day. If you’re skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll probably feel hungry a couple hours after that meal.
Failure to get the right kinds of nutrient dense foods can leave your body feeling unsatisfied, even if you got the right number of calories. Protein especially plays a role in helping your body feel full, so working it into your diet will help you feel satisfied for longer periods of time.
Watch out for empty calories. Eat things that are packed with vitamins and complex nutrients. Your body doesn’t like eating the same thing consistently. Make sure to give your meals variety so that you enjoy eating them and eat enough to be full.
Choose healthier snacks so that your body only craves them if it actually needs food, and not simply because it expects sugar. Snacking is actually good for your diet if you eat right, because it keeps your body and gut engaged so that your stomach is ready for food.
Additionally, picking the right snacks ensures that you only snack when your body actually needs food. Sugary snacks and drinks will cause you to crave them even when you aren’t hungry. Use snacks as a great way to deliver extra fruit and vegetables into your diet.
Liquid calories are a great culprit for unhealthy eating styles. If you’re scoring 140+ calories and 30+ grams of sugar in a soda or fluffy coffee drink around mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you won’t have as complete or complex of a lunch or dinner. Failing to eat a good lunch or dinner will simply make you crave the wrong things at the wrong time.
If you’re used to drinking a beer around mid-evening, this will cause your body to expect extra calories and carbs. Make sure to think about how drinking habits factor into your eating rhythms.
Counterintuitively, a lack of exercise can actually contribute to always feeling hungry. While you might think that working out will simply increase the amount of food your body is going to crave, and so will increase the amount of hunger you feel, this isn’t the case. Feeling constantly hungry sometimes doesn’t result from not eating enough or lacking the right number of calories. Sometimes it results from an imbalanced lifestyle.
Working out gives your lifestyle a full balance. By burning calories and fats, your body will begin craving the right kinds of calories and fats. Exercise improves your eating habits, and improving your eating habits will make you feel less constantly hungry.
It isn’t just your gut that tells you when to stop eating. Your brain plays a role as well. The brain chemical leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat, and you should slow down on the whole carrots and hummus situation. Without enough sleep, levels of leptin and ghrelin fluctuate, causing your brain to produce more of the chemical that stimulates your appetite and less of the chemical that tells you to stop.
In addition to this chemical imbalance, not getting enough sleep can increase your craving for carbohydrates and sugar-loaded foods which give you energy to stay awake. If you try to force your body to stay up when it shouldn’t, your body will look for stimulation from your eating habits.
Everybody has different methods of managing stress. For some of us, food is a go-to stress management technique. Drowning anxiety in a little bit of chocolate or sugar does make us feel better. It gives our gut and brain something to do other than worry, and delivers nice little sugar and dopamine rushes.
Practice healthy stress reduction techniques, like exercise and supplements. Finding healthy ways to combat stress will reduce unhealthy ways to combat stress, like eating the wrong things at the wrong time.
You might have heard the phrase “healthy eating rhythms” over and over, and assumed that this means that you should have a strict control over your calories and eating times. This isn’t quite true. It’s far more important that you learn to listen to your body than that you learn to control your body. If your body needs food, you should eat.
Learn to understand what your body needs. If you feel hungry, opt for healthy, hearty foods instead of chips. The key to feeling less hungry and managing your cravings is learning to properly interpret your cravings without equating “tired and sugar” or “hunger and fats/oils.”