Why Am I Always Hungry? Here Are 11 Possible Reasons

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Are you embarrassed by a growling stomach and plagued by the never-ending search for something to eat? Do you often wonder why you are always hungry? Don’t worry, you’re not alone 😉 We did some research and have put together a list of the 11 most common reasons. (Number 3 will probably surprise you.)

1. You are eating too little

Okay, the first reason is obvious: can it really be that you’re eating too little? Are you working out a lot? Maybe you are simply not getting enough energy and nutrients despite eating three meals a day. A food diary can help you find out if you are giving your body everything it needs.

2. You are thirsty

Yes, sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. The reason is simple: the hypothalamus (part of the diencephalon and the most important control center of the autonomic nervous system) regulates both hunger and thirst. When you are dehydrated, the hypothalamus can get things mixed up. This is why you reach for a granola bar rather than a glass of water, although this is exactly what you need at that moment. Make sure to drink plenty of water and when you start to feel hungry, drink some water first before eating anything.

3. You are constantly on social media

Photos of friends’ pizza night on Facebook or Instagram. Recipe boards on Pinterest. But what we are talking about can be summed up best in two words: “FOOD PORN!” A problem our parents didn’t have to deal with when they were young… Through our smartphones, we are presented with a flood of mouthwatering images around the clock. Which is a big problem when you consider that there is scientific evidence showing that the mere sight of food can create feelings of hunger. These images of food lead to increased levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” in your blood. So just put your cell phone down for once! Is this proving difficult for you? Then make sure to check out photos of delicious AND healthy foods.

4. You are sleeping too little

Sleep deprivation has a big influence on feelings of hunger and what you eat. Too little sleep can lead to reduced levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for suppressing hunger. At the same time, inadequate sleep also leads to increased ghrelin, the other “hunger hormone,” which stimulates your appetite. This is one of the reasons why lack of sleep is often associated with weight gain. Doctors recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

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5. You went a little overboard last night

It might not sound logical, but it’s often true: if you eat huge amounts the night before, you will wake up hungry again the next morning. Would you like to know why? Science doesn’t really have a definitive answer yet. One theory has to do with the relationship between sugar and insulin. In the evening, we often eat way too many simple carbohydrates (white bread, refined-wheat pasta and high-sugar foods). The high level of sugar in the blood causes your pancreas to produce too much insulin. This, in turn, makes you feel hungry, thus perpetuating the cycle.

6. You are getting your period soon

Women probably know this all too well: shortly before your period, you could eat everything you see. Chocolate, ice cream and cake are particularly tempting. During the second half of the cycle, many women’s appetite and energy intake actually do increase. Progesterone levels are particularly high during this time, and many women feel sick or depressed shortly before their period. And it is this feeling of the blues that can then lead to the food cravings associated with premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.

7. You are eating wrong

Not only eating too little makes you hungry, but eating the wrong foods can also lead to hunger pangs. Nowadays, we consume far too many simple carbohydrates, while reducing the amount of fiber, protein and healthy fats we take in. The problem is that these nutrients are precisely the ones your body needs and the ones that keep you feeling full. Make sure to eat a balanced diet and stick to regular meals. This leads us to our next point…

8. You are skipping meals

You have overslept and there is no time for breakfast. You are stressed at work so you skip lunch… By the afternoon, you are so hungry you could eat a horse. It’s no surprise considering you have been cutting out meals. We often don’t notice how hungry we are until we get a second to sit down and hear our stomach growling. There is only one method to avoid this situation: eat regularly! Three main meals and possibly one or two snacks a day is the best way to keep your hunger in check.

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9. You are bored

Are you actually hungry, or are you just bored? Many people can’t really tell the difference. Are you hungry for an apple and a handful of nuts? No? Then you’re not really hungry, but just looking for something to keep you busy. Find another way to distract yourself. Try doing some exercise, reading a book or meeting friends.

10. You are taking medication

Certain medications can stimulate appetite and hunger, like anti-depressants, for example. Unfortunately, this is one of the undesired side effects. The cravings go away once you stop taking the medication. However, it’s not so easy if you have to take them for a long time. In this case, it is definitely worth talking to your doctor about this problem. Perhaps you can lower the dosage or switch to a different medication with fewer side effects.

11. You are eating too fast

Does it sometimes seem like you just inhale your lunch? Eating too fast usually leads to a higher energy intake. Your stomach might be full, but it takes your brain longer to register it. This gives you the feeling of still being hungry and so you continue to eat. What you can do about this is to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Take at least 20 minutes for lunch. This is how long your brain needs to realize you are full.

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Julia Denner Dietitian Julia is a creative cook. She is convinced that a varied diet and regular exercise are the keys to success. View all posts by Julia Denner »

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