What Makes You Eat More When You Are Not Hungry

what makes you hungryRecently, TIME magazine published an online article that discussed a few reasons why sometimes we *feel* hungry even though we might have fed ourselves enough food. Awareness of these factors is important if you are trying to cut down on calories and mastering your appetite. The ways in which you can reduce your appetite can be more effectively implemented once you understand certain fundamental reasons behind why we become hungry in the first place.

Before we look at the TIME article, let us understand the two types of hunger that people experience: 1. physiological hunger, and 2. psychological hunger. Physiological hunger is the one which is triggered by the level of energy in your body (or sugar in your blood), and the food in your stomach - the lack of food/energy causes secretion of hunger inducing hormones (such as ghrelin) which tells your brain that your body needs more food.

In the second type of hunger, there is no physiological trigger signal from the stomach - it’s just your brain tricking itself into thinking that your body needs more food even when it already has enough [actually, brain triggers the hunger physiology which eventually gets translated into the feeling of hunger]. Psychological hunger increases the potential for problems caused by overeating (stomach disorders, obesity, etc).

Now, here are the factors behind hunger as discussed in the article - some are physiological, but others are classic psychological cases:

  1. Time: A part of the reason why feel hungry at certain times of the day is that we have been training ourselves to eat around the same time for many years around the same time. Whether you have a light breakfast or a very heavy one, you are bound to feel hungry around lunch time.
  2. Sight: That’s why the color and arrangement of the food matters - it directly affects the palatability. Sight of well arranged, delicious looking colorful food may not cause you to overeat in a given meal, but it can certainly trigger the feel for having a meal even when your body doesn’t need one.
  3. Variety: We discussed this in the previous post about controlling your appetite. Too many flavors trigger the production of appetite hormones and makes you feel hungrier than you really are.
  4. Smell: According to the article, the smell of food can trigger insulin secretion in your body which results in the feeling of hunger.
  5. Alcohol: It’s the same reason why you are not allowed to drive after drinking a certain amount of alcohol - it impairs judgment. If you are drunk, you are going to eat stuff that comes in front of you - just because it’s eatable, not because you are hungry. :)
  6. Temperature: Ever wondered why restaurants are always cold? That’s because we tend to eat more in cooler environments. Lower temperatures tricks your body into thinking it needs more calories to burn in order to keep your body warm.
  7. Refined carbohydrates: These foods cause the blood sugar drop, which in turn induces hunger. According to BBC Health, this is how refined carbohydrates are defined:
  8. Refined carbohydrates refers to foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fibre bits (the bran and the germ) from the grain. White rice, white bread, sugary cereals, and pasta and noodles made from white flour are all examples of refined carbohydrates.

So there.. more tools in your box to avoid eating more than your body needs. Eat well, stay healthy.

1 Comment(s)

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    John | Jul 18, 2008 | Reply

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  1. Nov 9, 2007: from TGIF Link Roundup for 11-9-2007 ~ Smart. Healthy. Rich.
  2. May 24, 2010: from Don't know where to start or what to say! - Page 2 - ThinnerTimes - Gastric Bypass Forum, Lap Band Forum, and Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy Forum

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