Ever wonder why after eating through your entire fridge, then returning to the freezer for seconds, you still feel hungry? You know that whole food is more satisfying than processed junk so you opt for avocado toast or a hearty, homemade chili, but you are still left with that urge to eat more. Your unbuttoned jeans finally tell you to put down the gluten free crackers and figure out what’s really going on.
So what IS really going on?
1. You aren’t getting enough micronutrients.
Specifically from vegetables. Health articles constantly badger us to eat more seeds, nuts, beans, spices, etc., but it’s our old friends in the vegetable drawer that want to fill our bellies. While eating plenty of wholesome fats and proteins is important, vegetables give us those micronutrients we crave in much larger quantities, giving us that satisfaction we just can’t seem to achieve from eating a free range, three egg omelette with jack cheese and bacon. The more we mix up the colors, textures, and cooking style of our veggies, the more this will ring true.
2. You’re thirsty.
Thirst is so easily mistaken as hunger. Even if you aren’t seriously dehydrated, your body might be telling you that it just needs a simple glass of water. To take it a step further, drink two glasses of water first thing in the morning and drink a glass of water 20 minutes before eating to get that true full feeling.
3. Boredom has taken over.
When boredom strikes, hunger strikes. When there is nothing else within arms reach to give us immediate pleasure, food looks like a pretty good option. If you’re wondering how to tell whether you are eating out of hunger or boredom, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” Another powerful question is, “Am I craving junk food or real food?” If the answer is “no” or “junk food” then you probably aren’t hungry and should find something else that makes you happy, like taking a walk or calling an old friend.
4. You’re tired.
When the body is tired it searches for an external energy source, like coffee and sugar. Ever notice when you stay up late you start to get hungry around 11pm? It’s your body’s way of helping you stay awake. The middle of the afternoon is another major time of the day when we start to crash and grab the closest sugar item to keep us awake. Instead of eating that cookie or bag of chips, talk a walk, do some stretches, or just go to bed if it’s that time of the day.
5. You’re hungry for life.
There’s a concept of primary food and secondary food, secondary food being what we actually eat. Primary food is how we spend our time, who we spend it with, our connection to something greater than us and it comes before actual food for good reason. If we are just going through the motions of life-working, taking care of the kids, paying the bills-and not taking time to do what we love on a regular basis, then that lack of fulfillment will translate into hunger. Have you noticed that when you’re laughing with close friends or seeing your favorite band in concert that you aren’t hungry, or don’t notice your hunger until it’s over? It’s because you’re full of primary food. So make a list of everything that gives you joy, from baking cookies to walking the streets of Paris, and do them!
Hunger is your body’s way of telling you to take more time for yourself and enjoy your life in every moment. So if you just can’t seem to find that satisfaction you know is there, eat more vegetables, break out of your normal routine a bit, and have fun!