If you’re like me then you’re probably never far from food. I don’t have a big appetite but I regularly fight the urge to be a ‘grazer’ – I could just keep eating small snacks all day and be very happy.
There are a number of things that can make you think you’re hungry when you aren’t though, and this can throw a spanner in the works for your weight loss.
To help you know what to look out for, here are some of the main things that can falsely convince you you’re hungry:
1. You’re constantly looking at ‘food porn’
Social media is full of delicious looking meals. Whether it’s friends’ photos at restaurants or images on Instagram, we are surrounded by perfect looking food, and let’s be honest, it makes you hungry. This then makes you reach for the nearest snack whether you’re actually hungry or not. I’ve been guilty of this one before, damn beautiful food images on Instagram!
2. You’re tired
I’ve mentioned this before but your body really does function better when you’ve had a decent amount of sleep. By getting more sleep you will be able to regulate your hunger better than if you’re tired, resulting in your body only telling you it’s hungry when it actually is.
3. You’re dehydrated
Many people confuse the sensation of thirst for hunger, causing you to eat when you aren’t actually hungry. If you feel peckish and it’s not a usual meal/snack time for you then drink a glass of water and wait 10-20 minutes; if you still feel hungry then it was hunger, if you don’t then it was thirst.
4. You’re stressed
Stress can cause ghrelin (the hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry) to spike. We’ve all heard of ‘stress eating’ and most of us have probably done it at some point. The best solution is to obviously reduce your stress load, but it’s not always that simple, so just try to find ways to relieve your stress without reaching for the ice cream. You could go for a walk, workout (to release endorphins), have a relaxing bath or sit and listen to your favourite album.
5. You’re watching other people eat
We all know that it’s very hard to resist pinching a chip or helping yourself to a cookie if the people around you are eating those foods. We tend to feel hungry when we see someone else eating; particularly if it’s something we know we shouldn’t want. So next time you’re sat with your friends or family and they start tucking into something, ask yourself if you are really hungry, or if it’s just related to the ‘food porn’ point made earlier.
6. You have only recently finished your meal
Have you ever eaten a meal and immediately felt like you want more food? You’re not alone, this can happen if you’ve eaten too quickly as your brain may not have had time to register that you’re full yet. It usually takes your brain 10-20 minutes to receive the message that you’re full, so give it time. To prevent this from happening try to eat slower.
If you are eating in front of a screen that can also affect your ability to realise that you’re full as your brain is focusing on what’s going on in the program rather than concentrating on your food.
That all being said, if you are genuinely hungry then go and eat! Don’t starve yourself because you think you shouldn’t be hungry – if you are actually hungry then you need food. Just take time to think about whether it could just be boredom or any of the points I’ve listed above before you grab something to eat.