If the question, "why am I always hungry although I eat a lot?" is lurking in your mind right now, then you need to do a study of your eating patterns. Excessive hunger is not all the time a healthy indicator. So, beware of the causes and plan your ways to curb it.
Did You Know? If you have a habit of filling yourself to bursting, your brain starts thinking that it has to be that way, always.
A low-fat diet, followed over an extended period of time can lead to constant hunger and exhaustion.
The condition wherein you always feel hungry is called polyphagia or hyperphagia. It can be the symptom of an underlying physical and mental disorder.
Poor appetite, under-eating, overeating, excessive hunger, and cravings are some of the common problems, today. Modern but sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and lack of healthy food in diet often lead to hormonal imbalance and digestive system disorders.
Overeating and excessive weight gain can eventually result in obesity and weight related diseases like heart diseases. It is therefore necessary to check the symptoms and control such disorders in early stages.
Children and adults of all ages can suffer from eating disorders. Many times, the cause is minor, and can be eliminated with simple measures like change in diet and lifestyle.
Causes of Excessive Hunger and What You can Do
Excessive stress can lead to excessive eating. Fast-paced modern life, competition in every field, relationship issues, financial problems, etc., lead to stress.
What you can do: Try to spend some time with family, friends and children. Pursuing hobbies, watching / keeping yourself engaged in sports activities, yoga, meditation, joining laughter clubs, watching movies, etc. can help lower stress.
Boredom is a common cause of excessive eating as people go on eating when they have nothing to do.
What you can do: Try to keep yourself engaged in exciting and entertaining activities like reading, dancing, learning a foreign language or playing a musical instrument. Spending free time with your friends and family, senior citizens, children in orphanages, can offer you a lot of satisfaction. Those who are thinking about early / regular retirement should plan in advance as to what they want to do after retirement.
Depression can force you eat more as it involves social withdrawal, mood swings, and increased irritability.
What you can do: Stay in the company of happy, contented people. Consult your psychiatrist, take the prescribed medicines. 'Be positive' is the mantra of healthy and active life.
Quitting smoking, quitting alcohol, or drugs can make people eat more.
What you can do: Although quitting alcohol or drugs is good, you may experience hunger pangs as a withdrawal symptom. Divert your attention from alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and food. Tapering of drugs helps minimize the withdrawal symptoms. You should consult your physician for that. Certain medicines can also help lower the symptoms.
Certain medicines can stimulate your appetite. For example, oral corticosteroids can make you feel hungry all the time.
What you can do: Consult your physician and inform him about your lifestyle and your routine medicines. The physician may change the medicine which is responsible for excessive hunger.
Is It Hunger or Thirst?
Sometimes people mistake thirst for hunger pangs.
What you can do: Check whether it is really the hunger that is causing problem or is it the sensation of thirst. Try drinking plenty of water or fluids like milk, soups, milkshakes, it can help you avoid cravings.
Water acts as an appetite suppressant. Instead of snacks or lunch, you may incorporate low calorie healthy liquids in your diet. This can help curb your appetite and lower your daily calorie intake too.
Diseases and Disorders
Chances of feeling hungry all the time are higher in case of marijuana intoxication, undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes, bipolar disease, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, Graves' disease, tapeworms, etc.
What you can do: You should consult a physician for proper treatment. Knowing the exact cause of the underlying disorder helps design the treatment. Early diagnosis promotes fast recovery.
Peer Pressure and Influence of the Media
Media's influence on eating habits is the main concern today. You sit in front of the television and the advertisements bombard you with images of sugary and mouth-watering foods. Children are tempted to eat what their friends eat. Window displays, sweets, and candies on or near the cash counters entice not only the children but also the adults.
What you can do: As a responsible parent, if you want your children to follow a healthy diet, then you should also follow it. You should inform your children about the benefits of healthy diet and how fast / junk food can eventually destroy their health. Parents should not fall prey to advertisements. Adults and children should enjoy outdoor activities instead of watching television. Try to make attractive dishes at home and encourage children to become little chefs.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein people consume large amounts of food and try to get rid of the extra calories by purging (induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, etc.) or non purging behavior (fasting, exercising). Excessive eating without purging can also be called binge eating disorder.
What you can do: You should consult a physician or a psychiatrist to find out the cause of eating disorder. You should follow his / her instructions religiously. You should opt for a healthy weight loss diet. You may consult a dietitian before determining the daily calorie intake.
Many times, people reach for fast / junk food when they are angry or sad. This is called emotional eating. I hope you would agree with me that this is one of the most common causes of overeating.
What you can do: Emotional eating may help relieve the stress, but you need to change the habit. You should learn to control your anger. Divert your attention from the things / incidents that made you angry and try to keep yourself engaged in activities that you find interesting. You may learn deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation techniques which can help manage both anger and stress.
It is quite natural to be excessively hungry during pregnancy.
What you can do: If you are pregnant, you should consume about 300 extra calories per day. You should check out your diet for additional daily needs for protein, calories, key vitamins and minerals. You should follow the instructions of your doctor religiously.
Eating habits of an individual are influenced by serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin regulate your food intake. Excessive fat in the body can affect the balance of hormones.
What you can do: Instead of 2-3 large meals, you may enjoy 5-6 small (frequent) meals. You should exercise regularly as it helps maintain hormonal balance and helps lose fat. Consumption of appetite suppressants can help suppress your appetite.
Fast Rate of Metabolism
Those who have a faster rate of metabolism may experience excessive hunger. Thyroid gland controls the rate of metabolism. If your thyroid is overactive, you may always feel hungry.
What you can do: A simple blood test helps check thyroid hormone levels, so, consult your physician. If you naturally have a faster rate of metabolism, your body may often demand calories. Make sure that you are eating healthy food to curb the want of calorie.
Any cardiovascular exercise will help burn calories. The body demands calories after such exercises. To avoid weight gain, you can drink plenty of water or juices to offer your body the feeling of satiation after exercise.
Following a fad diet, constantly eating low-fat foods or zero calorie foods can leave you hungry, always asking for more.
What you can do: Instead of achieving the desired weight loss, your diet may end up in weight gain. Carbohydrates without fat have a very high glycemic index.
Consumption of such food can instantly raise your blood sugar levels. Incorporating such carbs in diet leads to quick conversion of sugar into fat and hence, your brain, and your body may suffer from lack of energy. You should always choose a healthy weight loss diet. Not only diet, but exercise also plays an important role in weight loss.
If you have your dinner before 7 pm or if you do not include enough proteins in your meals, you may not have the feeling of satiation.
Lack of essential nutrients or poor absorption of nutrients can leave you hungry even after meals. This can be the simple answer to the questions 'why do I feel like eating late at night?' or 'why am I hungry lately?'.
What you can do: Consumption of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, soy products ensures that you won't feel hungry all the time. Whole grain foods, high fiber foods can make you feel satiated.
After an early dinner, you may enjoy low-fat desserts or fresh fruits. Eating more whole grains can help you avoid hunger all the time. If nothing works, then consult your doctor as excessive hunger can be a symptom of some gastrointestinal disorder leading to poor absorption of nutrients.
I hope this Story provided a satisfactory answer to your question about the causes of excessive hunger. It is natural for growing children to feel hungry all the time. But if you want to control your diet, you may try eating BEFORE you get hungry, then you won't want to binge.