If You're Always Starving, There's a Problem
If you're always starving, there may be several underlying medical conditions. The good news is there are effective ways to manage hunger.
is the physiological need for calories, water, and salt, and it's driven by a
mix of factors, including your diet, appetite hormones, and emotional factors,
such as stress," says Maggie Moon, RD, a Los
Angeles-based nutritionist and owner of Everyday Healthy Eating.
If you’re one of those people who are always
thinking about food, this may seem like a natural thing to you. However,
thinking about food constantly because you’re hungry may show a bigger medical
here are several conditions
or issues that cause constant and ongoing feelings of starvation, and this is
something you should definitely investigate with your physician. Here are some
of the common problems related the experience of chronic hunger.
10 Causes for Out-of-Control Hunger
Always Starving: Dehydration
Many times people have dehydration when they
are experiencing hunger symptoms. The truth is that with chronic dehydration
the symptom for thirst is often misunderstood. Always being hungry combined
with not drinking enough fluids, or having enough electrolytes, in your body
could mean that you’re actually suffering from moderate to mild dehydration.
The easiest way to check if you’re dehydrated
is to look at the color of your urine. Cleared to light yellow is a fully
hydrated person. Moderate to dark yellow means you definitely need to drink
more water. If your urine is orange or dark brown, you should seek immediate
medical attention because this is a symptom of extreme dehydration.
is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs
fluids," says Alissa Rumsey, RD, spokesperson for the American Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics.
brain mistakes our thirst for hunger since both are controlled by the same part
of the brain, the hypothalamus. A study carried out by the Journal of
Physiology & Behavior found that we mistake our thirst for hunger 60% of
crucial for carrying nutrients to where they need to go, and lack of water
means lack of nutrients, which makes our body think it’s running low on fuel
and strikes up hunger pangs.
Always Starving: Hyperthyroidism
If you’re eating more than usual, constantly
hungry still losing weight, then you could have a problem with your thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid speeds up everything the body
does. This means all of your metabolic processes will run faster than they
normally would. As a result, you will find yourself with an insatiable hunger.
WebMD says that if your hunger pairs with
moodiness, fatigue, brittle nails, or hair loss you could be displaying all the
signs of hyperthyroidism. Having tests run by a doctor for thyroid function is
the only way to be sure that you do not suffer from this medical condition.
Always Starving: Your Hormones Are Off
Besides hyperthyroidism, several hormonal
conditions can affect your metabolic function. Women’s Health Magazine points
to conditions like prediabetes and diabetes, hypoglycemia, and other insulin
and glucose related issues as the main sources of hunger spikes.
Sometimes hunger hormone responses are controlled
through specialized diet. If your hunger is caused by a high-refined
carbohydrate diet, a nutritionist may recommend that you reduce your
carbohydrate intake. In fact, eating refined carbs, such as white starches, and
sugar is known to cause out of control cravings and an erratic appetite.
Reducing carbohydrates has an effect on the
insulin output and uptake in your metabolism. Your hormones handle many things
in your body and shouldn’t be ignored.
Always Starving: You Skip Meals
skip meals in an effort to burn off some fat, you are making a mistake. When
you skip a meal, your body goes into “storage” mode and locks down on the fat
cells in case there’s a bout of starvation going around.
ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating your appetite, goes into
overdrive when you leave your stomach with no food for a long time. A rule of
thumb is not to go without food for more than 4 or 5 hours, and opt for healthy
Always Starving: You’re Not Sleeping
Sleep is one of the biggest regulators of
hormones. Hormones such as those produced during stress (cortisol) relate
directly to your sleep cycle. In addition, sleep affecting hormones it can also
cause you to have a larger appetite.
WebMD notes that craving high fat and high
calorie foods are symptoms of being overtired. Along with craving foods that
are bad for you, you may notice a change in mood, clumsiness, difficulty
focusing and weight gain.
If you’re having all the symptoms and aren’t
sleeping your eight hours every day, it may be time to add some extra sleep
into your daily schedule. Once you do, you should see an immediate decrease in
the stress responses due to lack of sleep.
Always Starving: You Rush Through Meals
don’t use your five senses while eating, you’re likely to eat more than those
who pay attention to their food. Even listening to the crunching of your food
registers with your brain on some level, allowing for the hormone leptin, which
is responsible for the sense of being full, to start working after nearly 20
minutes of eating.
you’re distracted watching TV, or playing on your phone, or working on your
laptop, your brain doesn’t register that you’re eating and you end up eating
almost 40% more than you should.
your time and practice mindful eating. Our busy lives dictate that we do
everything in a rush. We rarely have time to think and reflect, let alone take
our time eating. You should spend around 20-25 minutes eating since the hormone
leptin starts kicking in after about 20 minutes, giving that feeling that
you’ve had enough to eat.
show that those who eat quickly consume 60% more calories than those who take
their time with their food.
Always Starving: Too Many Carbs
meal full of carbohydrates means you’re flooding your bloodstream with sugars,
especially glucose, which then alerts insulin to be released in huge amounts to
take in all that glucose. And since insulin moves fast, it will take away the
sugar quickly, leaving you with a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.
triggers hunger pangs and out of control cravings. Steer clear of refined carbs,
including sugar, white breads, rice, and pasta. Opt for whole grains and eat a
clean diet filled with whole food, which will also improve digestion and boost
Always Starving: You’re Stressed Out
when we’re stressed, we lose our appetite. However, that’s only temporary,
because prolonged stress increases the release of the hormone cortisol, which
triggers our sense of hunger. What’s more is that cortisol takes out lipids
from our bloodstream and stores them in fat cells, adding on the pounds, thus
increasing stress levels even more.
Always Starving: Not Enough Protein
protein takes some time to fully digest, which means you feel full longer.
What’s more is that lean protein provides your body with an
comes in many forms, such as eggs, meat, poultry, and fish. However, there are
also other sources of protein, which you can consume any time of the day, such
as quinoa, hummus, and peanut butter.
Always Starving: Medications
medications could be increasing your appetite. The scientific explanation is
that any type of medication you ingest is a chemical, which goes into your body
and can create a discrepancy in your body’s natural chemical balance.
While there is no one for sure answer as to
why you are always hungry, these things are the top contenders for chronic
hunger symptoms. The best thing that you can do is start by drinking plenty of
water and getting enough sleep. If you’re doing both of these then you may have
a problem that should be addressed by your physician.
If all of your blood work shows normal
hormone levels, your hunger may be psychological appetite rather than real hunger.
Learning to control your appetite can be done through hypnosis. (See My BONUS below.)
Learning how to control your hunger in the
absence of physical ailment will help you succeed in not thinking about food
all the time.
Always Starving....For More Ways to Manage Stress