Are you hungry all the time? Your drinking habits, your anxiety and stress levels, and other lifestyle factors may be to blame. So what are your hidden causes of hunger? It`s one thing to notice an increase in one’s appetite if you’re pumping iron and slaving away at a gym or if you’re PMS-in or even pregnant. But if your case makes you feel like you have a big hole in your stomach that can’t be filled for no apparent reason, then something is probably up. It is said that hunger is a manifestation of one’s physiological need for calories, salt, and water and it is being driven by a concoction of different things including your hormones, your diet and other emotional factors such as anxieties, stress levels and more. Finding out why you can’t seem to stop munching on food is essential because excessive hunger can lead you down to either a physical and mental issue. And giving in to your frequent food cravings can throw your BMI off-balance sending you to unhealthy territories. Below are some of the things that can enlighten you as to why you’re always hungry for food.

1. You are dehydrated.

Dehydration, even on its mildest state can often be masked as hunger pangs, when in truth, it is water that your body really needs. This confusion happens in the hypothalamus—the brain part that controls both thirst and appetite. When you lack fluids in your body, it all gets wiry in the hypothalamus which leads you to grab a bag of junk food rather than a bottle of water. To prevent this, you need to make sure that you load up on water and keep yourself hydrated. If you feel all hungry and you realized that you haven’t drank much for the day, consider drinking a glass of water first and wait for 15-20 minutes after to see if your hunger will dissipate.

2. You don’t get enough sleep and rest.

If you sleep very poorly the previous night, it’s almost a guarantee that by the time you wake up, two hormones linked to appetite have already begun working against you. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates a person’s appetite, and lack of proper sleep can cause the body to have an increase level of ghrelin which causes you to feel hungry. On the other hand, there is leptin—the hormone that causes you to have that feeling of “fullness”. The leptin levels in your body decreases if you don’t get to sleep well, making you wake up feeling hungry after. Also, if you’re a restless sleeper, you are more likely to suffer from fatigue and brain fog. To eliminate this from happening, shoot for about 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night so you can get your hunger hormones and energy levels back on the right track.

3. You eat a lot of starchy carbohydrates.

Do you ever noticed as to when you eat a cookie (or a doughnut), a piece seems never enough and you’d like to go back for more? Yep, that’s your brain when it comes to starchy carbohydrates. The starch or simple carbs found in cookies, crackers and other sugary treats can quickly increase your blood glucose levels then gets it plunging down as fast soon after. When your blood sugar goes down fast, it causes intense cravings for more sugary treats—it’s such a vicious cycle. So prevent your sugar levels from fluctuating by trying to avoid foods that are high in sugary carbs. Instead, get your carbohydrate fix by going for foods that are loaded with complex carbohydrates for a more filling effect. Examples of which include apples, almonds, chia, pistachios and more.

4. You’re under a lot of stress.

Lucky are the persons who have not been stressed at any point in their lives. But for those who have, chances are they’ve experienced an un-explainable increase in their appetites too. When you feel tensed, your system tends to intensify the production of the stress hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This tricks your body into thinking that you are under threat and needs energy thereby making you crave for food to satisfy your hunger. Stress also lowers your serotonin levels in the brain making you feel hungry when in fact you’re really not. To counter this, try to control your stress levels. Always do a breather, or participate in yoga classes to calm your mind and body.

5. You consume too much alcohol.

Alcohol tends to dehydrate you, and again, dehydration leads to feelings of hunger. Offset this effect by making sure that you alternate drinking cocktails and booze with water so you’ll stay hydrated all the way.

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