When your body is in need of hydration it will send out strong signals for you to consume something. Although what you really need is fluid, it can be very easy to mistake those desperate thirst signals for actual hunger. In fact, Cornell Professor and author of “Mindless Eating: Why we Eat More than We Think,” states that 70 percent of hunger attacks are actually caused by a lack of proper hydration. The obvious solution is to stay hydrated and consume approximately 8 cups of liquid per day. If you are active, consume a salty diet or are simply bigger in size you will want to drink more than that. The best way to tell if you are getting enough fluid is to look at the color of urine, it should be clear or light-coloured. Finally, keep in mind that your liquid intake doesn’t have to be filled by just water, but it does need to be filled by something that is low in caffeine in and salt, because both of those reduce your body’s hydration levels.
Did you know that over 66% of your brain is made up of fat and your brain requires a steady intake of fat in order to function properly? Unfortunately, many people who are trying to watch their weight restrict their fat intake and that compromises their brain and negatively effects how they think and feel. When you restrict fat too severely, your brain will send out strong signals for you to consume high fat foods, and you may even find yourself binge eating in order to satisfy those hunger signals. Fats in your diet also help to balance your blood sugar levels which is important because when your blood sugar levels are out of whack you will likely experience strong cravings and increased feelings of hunger. This information should not be used as a free pass to down a daily bowl of ice cream however, because there is a big difference between the fats that are contained in junk food and the fats that are contained in healthy food. The junk food variety will not provide you brain with the fats that it requires in order to function properly, whereas fats found in healthy food items will. Some great sources of healthy fat include olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil and sesame seed oil as well as nuts and seeds, avocados, chicken, turkey, beef and cold-water fish.
If you are consuming more packaged foods than you are whole foods on a daily basis, it is a pretty good sign that your diet is lacking in the healthy food department. Processed foods tend to be low in fiber and liquid deficient, so even a full-fledged binge eating episode won’t leave you satisfied for long. Some processed foods also contain MSG and artificial sweeteners – both of which have been linked to an increased appetite. In addition, the low fiber, high sugar content of most processed foods cause blood sugar imbalances, which as mentioned above, can lead to insatiable cravings and in vulnerable individuals it can even lead to binge eating. Finally, if your diet does not include enough healthy food items, you may experience nutrient deficiencies which can result in false hunger. For instance, a craving for chocolate may be caused by a magnesium deficiency and no matter how much food you eat, that craving will still remain. Also, if your diet is too low in protein, you may find yourself hungry again very shortly after you have consumed you last meal.
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In conclusion, if your find yourself experiencing constant cravings and hunger pangs, you should increase your liquid consumption (even if you don’t feel thirsty), drastically reduce your consumption of processed foods, emphasize whole, healthy food items and be sure to consume adequate amounts of healthy fat. Throw in a good night’s sleep to the mix (because sleep deprivation increases your appetite) and you should experience reduced hunger sensations within a few days. If you do not feel a reduction in your hunger pangs, you should consult with your physician because the constant hunger may be a sign of something more serious such as a thyroid disorder or eating disorder.