While we all eat for pleasure sometimes, it’s important to understand the difference between your tastebuds’ urge for treats and actual stomach churning hunger. I, for one, find it extremely difficult to differentiate between the two, and find that 90% of the time I’m just eating because I’m bored, stressed or both. And although this can be healthy in moderation, overeating can lead to weight gain, poor skin and other health issues like diabetes. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the sneaky things that trick us into believing we’re hungry when we’re actually not. Some of these include:
You’ve been looking at delicious food
For someone with very little self control, I completely understand this one. According to experts, humans are designed to feel hungry when looking at food. Evolutionary psychologists believe it’s a trait we acquired way back in our hunting days when survival mechanisms were designed to help combat sparse food. And even though we now have access to plenty of sustenance, our instincts haven’t really changed. It’s particularly difficult in the 21st century because we can’t even check social media without being confronted by chocolate cakes, pies and juicy burgers. By understanding that, just looking at food causes unnecessary hunger, you should be able to refrain from eating the next time those survival instincts kick in.
You’ve been thinking super hard
When we’re slaving away at the office or doing something of equal intensity, we can easily run out of energy. This is because our brains aren’t very good at storing calories for fuel, and once they run out of energy they trigger an urge to eat – no matter what we already have in our stomachs. Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent this. Exercising as soon as we start to feel hungry is a great way to increase the amount of lactic acid and sugar in our blood streams. This will eventually spread to the brain and it will be used as a fuel for energy. Goodbye, hunger!
Your normal routine is telling you it’s food time
Sometimes I’ll eat just because society dictates I eat three meals per day. However, experts say it’s not essential to eat if we’ve already snacked throughout the day. It’s always good to get into a routine, but we often force ourselves into the habit of eating at specific times every single day. Obviously meals are important, but sometimes we even get used to excessive snacking and then our bodies begin to expect food all the time.
You spent your last meal multi-tasking
When we spend our meals eating and scrolling through social media at the same time, our senses don’t meet their full expectations. They’re not able to smell, taste and look at food as it moves from our forks to our stomachs. And because it can take up to 20 minutes for the food to be digested and for our brains to receive that signal, we think that we’re still hungry. It’s time to put the iPhone down and concentrate on the task at hand. Otherwise, we might end up eating twice as much every day.
You’re actually thirsty
This is a huge one. When I become dehydrated, I can’t differentiate between whether I’m hungry or thirsty. According to experts, our bodies receive mixed signals when we haven’t had enough to eat or drink. Some foods also contain certain percentages of water, which is when things become even more confusing. The solution to this problem is extremely obvious: drink plenty of water. Nutritionists recommend at least eight glasses per day, so we should take our water bottles everywhere you go – the office, our friend’s place and even to bed at night.
Some other things that make us unnecessarily hungry include stress, sadness, alcohol, messy environments, other junk food, tiredness, anger and believe it or not, sad movies.
But as long as we can learn to recognise all of these things, we should be able to combat the tricky little buggers.