Editorial: What makes me so hungry?


Hunger is the bane of a successful diet plan.

Hungry and craving.
Hungry and craving.

Many of us that have dieted are are dieting experience unexplained and unwanted hunger. It crops up from the gut at inconvenient times and despite your best efforts to avoid it, you now are craving good. The cravings have ensure that now you can only thing about those comfort foods that will most certainly lead to over consumptions and your diet circling the toilet bowl of failure.

Your stomach is full and all you can think about is food. You should not be hungry at all, but the cravings have sent you into a feeding frenzy that had you seeing, smelling, and yes, tasting food that is not there. Right now, I am hungry. It Is only 2 hours after breakfast. I am starting to sense that familiar feeling of hunger. The hunger pangs and nearly impossible to resist. It often leaves me to wondering: what makes us hungry?

What is hunger and satiety?

Hunger and satiety are a simple sensations that is initiated in the gut and cause the brain to make it think you need food. They are not simple. the sensations are a very complex neuronal and chemical processes that ultimately results in a sensation of a need to eat or not. Hunger represents the physiological need to eat food. Satiety is simply the absence of hunger or sensation of feeling full.

Appetite or hunger is the desire or need to eat food. There are several theories about how the sensation of hunger arises. A healthy, well-nourished individual can survive for weeks without food intake, but will feel the sensation of hunger within hours after being devoid of food. The need to eat is protective and is overpowering and unpleasant to the suffered.

Hunger can be initiated by a dropping blood sugar and multiple other signals to include a simple time clock in our heads. Yes, we get used to eating at the same time frame every day. It is not as simple as just needing food. We can induce hunger through smells and sights of foods we like. Think of chocolate chip cookies cooking and I am sure you will smell the smell and soon want a few.

There are also hormones that can induce hunger such as insulin and cortisol can both induce hunger and consumption of food. Want poof? Look at anyone who takes oral steroids for any inflammatory disease. These steroids are very similar to cortisol and nearly all these patients are obese or at least overweight. For insulin, look at the metabolic syndrome suffers and type 2 diabetics. All have issues with central weight gain and overeating.

Satiety or fullness is the opposite sensation to hunger. Satiety is just as complex of a sensation as hunger. It is typically initiated by a stretching of the gut in response to food. Unfortunately, it is a delayed response and not near as overpowering or unpleasant as hunger hence the reasons so many of us over eat. Slowly digested foods can promote satiety.

The good news is that hunger can be short lived. You can distract yourself until it goes away. I have found that delaying consumption can assist with dissipating the sensation fo hunger. Exercise, deep breaths, meditating, and sipping water can assist with fighting hunger sensation. Do anything but each for food and you can fight the sensation. If you over eat, it will only make the problem worse as you experience the guilt and anxiety caused by slipping up.

The bottom line: Hunger is just a sensation but it can lead to weight gain. IF you have to eat, pick foods that are digested slowly and promote satiety. Eat slowly and pick your foods wisely. Higher fiber and higher protein foods are slowly digested and will promote satiety. In writing this article, my hunger has gone the way of the dodo.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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