SHERYL AFONSO e D’SOUZA
CLINICAL NUTRITIONIST (NORBERT’S FITNESS STUDIO) & ASST. PROFESSOR (POST GRADUATE DEGREE STUDIES, CARMEL COLLEGE)
Numerous are the reasons why people have no control over what they eat! Let me run you through the top 10 reasons that cause one to eat unabashedly, and you can then take your pick of what relates to you.
- Leptin-Ghrelin Inefficiency. Leptin, a “satiety” hormone, is released whilst you eat; it triggers a “fullness” signal by the brain, thereby preventing you from eating more. An abnormal leptin function is what causes one to overeat. Excess body fat, high triglyceride levels, and diets loaded with simple carbohydrates are often the cause of leptin resistance, which causes feelings of hunger even when a person has already had enough to eat. Ghrelin is the “hunger” hormone which also activates the “reward centre” of the brain. This makes us eat beyond our needs and also crave “comfort foods” such as chocolate, cookies, and cake. Suppressing ghrelin and activating leptin is what you need to do in order to control how much you eat. This can be achieved by choosing protein, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acid foods at each meal, all of which are known to have hunger-reducing properties.
- You Have a Medical Condition. Frequent hunger is a classic sign of diabetes. Hyperthyroidism is also associated with increased hunger, as are conditions such as depression, anxiety and premenstrual syndrome. Increased hunger is a given about a fortnight before most women’s menstrual cycle – be aware of the fact, and make a conscious effort to eat controlled and qualitatively healthier meal portions at that time of the month!
- You’re Taking Certain Medications. A side effect of several medications is an increase in appetite. The most common appetite-inducing medications include antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids, anti-seizure drugs, diabetes medications, and birth control pills.
- You’re Overly Stressed. Excess stress increases appetite, mostly due to its effects on increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that promotes hunger and food cravings.
- You’re Not Sleeping Enough! Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin and lower leptin levels. Observe whether your overeating happens on days when you are sleep-deprived.
- You’re Not Drinking Enough Water. Feelings of thirst can often be mistaken for feelings of hunger! If you’re always hungry, it may be helpful to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you are just thirsty, and not hungry.
- You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol. Alcohol has well known appetite-stimulating effects. It inhibits leptin, while also impairing the part of your brain that controls judgment and self-control. This may lead you to eat more, regardless of how hungry you are.
- You Eat Too Fast. Studies have shown that fast eaters have greater appetites and a tendency to overeat at meals, compared to slow eaters. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly gives your body and brain more time to release anti-hunger hormones and convey fullness signals.
- Your Diet is Carbohydrate-Loaded. Eating too much of refined carbohydrate leads to spikes in blood sugar levels, which in turn, leads to increased levels of insulin. This hormone (insulin) helps rapidly clear the blood of sugar. And so, when a lot of insulin is released at once in response to high blood sugar (caused by eating too much of refined carbohydrate), it works by quickly removing sugar from your blood, which may lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels signal your body that it needs more food; and that is why you feel hungry all the time!
- Your Diet Is Low in Fat and Fibre. Fatty and fibre-rich foods take longer to digest; they are satiating as they remain in your stomach for a long period of time. In the process, they release various fullness-promoting hormones. Including healthy fat in the form of omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, seeds), avocados, eggs, and yogurt are some ways of keeping your hunger in check.