I’m quite sure you’re all familiar with that sensation of hunger. Those sharp spasms that shoot through our stomach. We’ve all been there. It’s not the most pleasant of feelings, not to mention the psychological trauma you feel when you think you may be at risk of under nourishment and starvation (excuse my sarcasm, but it all comes from a place of love).
So what do most people do to avoid that feeling? They either put themselves on a timetable of eating ever 2 hours so they never experience that feeling, or they head straight to the kitchen at the first rumble.
Well, this is one of the reasons we have the high obesity rate that we are dealing with right now. Most people living in a modern society, have come to associate that hungry feeling with something that should only be experienced by people living on a very low income. Because why would any right minded person deliberately allow themselves to starve … I mean get hungry!
Ok Jay, enough sarcasm. Hunger obviously means eat, doesn’t it?
No, not necessarily. Hunger is very deceptive, which is why I would like to talk about it today. Like I said earlier, one of the biggest causes of obesity is how people react to hunger, so I believe one of the best ways for people to help control the way they react is to educate them about hunger and the real reason we feel those hunger pangs. Because in modern society, hunger pangs are very rarely a sign of severe malnourishment or starvation, hence it shouldn’t be used as a gage for when to eat and how much to eat. Infact, it doesn’t take much to set hunger off, even boredom can cause hunger.
A great way of seeing the practical implications of this is by observing children. When my children are at home all day and don’t have anything to do they will constantly complain about hunger and ask for things to eat. But take them out for the day or over-stimulate their minds and then we’re the ones who are reminding them to eat!! Anyone who has ever felt true hunger would know that it takes a bit more than a day out at the park to null the feeling.
So what exactly is hunger?
First lets deal with those rumbles. Most people see those rumbles as the first sign of hunger, but they don’t necessarily have any thing to do with hunger. There is a lot going on in your stomach when it is digesting food, and then as the food is passing down through your intestines is pushes air around. All this activity causes rumbling sounds. When your stomach is empty it can amplify these rumblings which is why they can get quiet loud sometimes. But don’t worry, its a good sign. It means all the contents of your stomach are moving on a they are supposed to be.
Now, I can see you’re already focusing on the fact that I said ‘when your stomach is empty’ and you’re throwing your hands up in the air like
But no … An empty stomach is not necessarily a bad sign. It just means it’s done it’s job of digesting the food you previously ate. And it is a good thing to give it a break before you have another meal. It doesn’t need to be constantly working.
When your stomach is ready to be refilled it will release a hormone known ghrelin, this tells your brain that you need to find some food. But here’s the twist, remember hunger is deceptive, sometimes it can take something as little as the sight or smell of a mouth watering meal to get your stomach to start releasing these hormones, even if you’re not hungry.
This is why I always advise people to start with water whenever they feel hunger. Besides the fact that water is good for you, and by good for you I mean it is by far the most important thing you should be putting in your body, it’s also a great way of stopping your stomach from releasing unnecessary hormones. Infact, it could even be the fact that you are actually thirsty and not hungry. You see, there is a part of our brain called the hypothalamus and this is responsible for sending the signal which result in the production of the hormones related to thirst and hunger (as well as other hormones) and, well, sometimes it mixes it up. So sometimes your body might get a dose of ghrelin when it should actually be releasing some ADH (antidiuretic hormone).
So when you feel hungry, grab a cold glass of water, if you find that your hunger pangs end after drinking your water, then it’s safe to assume that it was a false cry of hunger and you are not in imminent danger.
If, however, you are still feeling hungry a few minutes drinking your water, then it could be the real deal this time and you may need to top up on some energy and nutrients.
So there you have a little breakdown on the truth about hunger and how it works. Despite what we’ve been taught or grown up believing, not every sign of hunger needs to be surrendered to. And if you can understand the true nature of how hunger works, you’ll be one step closer to reaching your fat loss goals.
If you have anything to add please leave a comment in the section below.