Hunger is a sensation that exists only in our minds. Yup, it’s just a feeling. Just like you feel happy or tired or stress or pain, no one else can exactly identify with your feeling or fully appreciate it. What you experience as hunger is likely different than what your best friend experiences. Who really knows, right? But, like any of your feelings, it’s important to identify why you are experiencing it. If you’re touching a hot stove and feeling pain, it’s your body’s signal to you that you should probably move your hand. If you’re in a dark alley and feeling stressed, your feeling is a way that your body signals to you that you might want to turn down another street. If it’s your wedding day and you’re feeling excited, that feeling is probably your body’s way of saying hey, this is a good thing for you. Okay, in the same way, you’ve got to identify why you’re feeling hungry.
You and I both know that that feeling of hunger is often not a true need for food (for the purpose of nourishing and energizing your body). It’s sort of crazy, but often we get our signals crossed. If you’ve ever sat down with a pint (or gallon) of ice cream after a super stressful day or ate like a beast in response to exhaustion the morning after an all-nighter you get the whole feelings/signals crossed concept. Here are the top 3 reasons I think you’re getting your signals mixed.
1. Stress: Externally challenging issues can elicit a stress response in the body. The release of stress hormones from your adrenal glands can make you think that you are hungry, when in all reality, you’re just stressed. Practicing a Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique when you’re feeling stressed can help you beat those stress (fake) hunger pangs.
2. Tired: When you’re tired, you’re more likely to overeat. In fact when you’re not sleeping enough at night, chances are good that you will eat an extra 300 calories a day more than you would when you’re well rested. An extra 300 calories each day could mean up to a 30 pound weight gain in a year. Bottom line, work on getting a good night’s rest every night and really identify whether you are eating out of tiredness or a true need-for-food hunger
3. Thirsty: When you get dehydrated, you feel a little shaky, weak and tired. These are often symptoms we equate with hunger. To combat dehydration posing as hunger, be sure that you are getting at least 3-4 liters of water every day, and when you think you feel“ hungry” but you’re not quite sure, try drinking a glass or two of water first.
So, if you find yourself hooked on a feeling, I’d say to try using your critical thinking to identify whether or not your hunger is a true need for food. Change Your Meals, Change Your Life!!