Why You're Still Hungry After Eating
How Hunger Works
Hunger is a sneaky thing. Sometimes after I've just finished eating a reasonable meal, I want more. I don't need more calories, but I still crave food. If you're on a diet, it's what you do at that moment that can make or break your plans.
To help you beat hunger, you need to understand how your stomach deals with food. When you eat, the food you swallow enters your stomach. As your stomach stretches to accommodate the food, nerve stretch receptors tell the brain you're starting to fill up. Food that's "bulky" like vegetables, stretch things out and help you feel more full.
Soda and juice drinks don't push out or trigger the nerve stretch receptors very much. That's one of the reasons why you can drink hundreds of calories in cola and juice, without feeling full.
As your stomach fills up, you produce less of a hormone called ghrelin. That's a hormone that sends a hunger message to your brain. The more food your stomach gets, the less ghrelin your body produces and the less hunger you feel.
At the same time, another digestive hormone called cholecystokinin starts to kick in. Its job is to tell your brain when you've eaten. The more you eat, the more your body produces. Start dieting and your body doesn't produce much cholecystokinin, so you feel more hungry. Eating foods higher in fiber and protein keep the cholecystokinin hormone flowing and hunger at bay.
Meanwhile, your brain is constantly monitoring your blood. The hypothalamus checks the amino acids, fatty acids and glucose to figure out if you need to eat something, or stop. As glucose drops, hunger increases. Eating frequently throughout the day helps keep your levels steady and hunger down.
About this point timing kicks in. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes after you've started eating, for your brain to get the message about what's going on. It takes time for the nerve stretch receptors to react and the ghrelin production to ease off. Fast eaters that finish their meal in 5 minutes, will continue to get a "hungry" feeling for at least another 10 to 15 minutes. Give in to that temporary sensation and you're probably going to overeat.
Slowing down is the best way to deal with the problem because it gives you time to appreciate the food, while giving your body time to catch up with what's happening. But for some people that's not possible. They've got to grab a bite on the run and keep going.
If that's you, get a timer or use the stopwatch function on your phone. Eat your meal at your normal pace, but set the timer to go off in 25 minutes. If you're still hungry when the alarm rings, you may not have taken in enough calories. Add some vegetables to your meal. But if you're like most people, when that alarm rings you'll realize you're not really hungry after all
Another way to deal with things is to stand up after you finish eating, and feel your stomach. You should be comfortable, not stuffed when you stand up. If you're starting to feel overly full, you're over eating. Step away from the food unless you like that bloated sensation you get when you indulge too much.
A trick many restaurants use is to keep things a little chilled. Our bodies naturally warm up when we're digesting food, so restaurants like to hold the temperature down. When you're cold, you tend to eat more. Warm yourself up at the first sign of hunger.
If overeating is something new to you, there may be an underlying medical condition you should get checked out. Diabetes, diabetic hypoglycemia, overactive thyroids and Grave's disease can all trigger hunger because of how they affect insulin response. Antidepressants, cortisone and steroids are other causes of overeating. Ask your doctor about any medications you're taking and get a thorough exam if you suddenly find yourself eating more than normal.
- Eat Bulky Foods (Vegetables)
- Eat Frequently During the Day
- Slow Down
- Warm Yourself Up When Hungry
Drink more water!
It's not unusual for someone who's thirsty, to confuse the feeling with hunger. When you finish eating, drink a glass of water before chowing down again.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.