One of my first posts was titled, “Make a List.” I could have alternatively named it, “What are you Really Hungry for?” Honestly, it was my homeschool mom who got in my head on that one….”Don’t end sentences with a preposition.” “For what are you really hungry?” Nope! Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it! It’s just too formal sounding. Haha!
Okay, getting back to the point here… Let’s talk a little more about hunger.
Our body can signal in many different ways that it is time to provide it with some fuel. A lot of times when we think of hunger, we think simply about an empty or grumbly sensation in our belly. Some other signs our body may offer indicating a need for fuel include: a feeling of weakness or a decrease in strength, perhaps even feeling shaky, a decrease in mental clarity and focus, feeling distracted, a drop in energy, being more easily agitated or irritable, getting a headache, etc.
Have you ever been HANGRY?
This is when you are so hungry, you become easily angered – you’ve lost your focus and patience and food needs to happen immediately! I know most people have experienced this at one point in time.
Often feelings of hunger give people a little bit of anxiety. I can understand this since depending on the type of diet you are eating and your overall health, those hunger sensations can quickly turn to HANGRY! This is because all of those signs our body gives us indicating a need for fuel are often associated with a drop in our blood sugar.
I promise I won’t get too sciencey here, but let’s talk about this a little bit…
When we eat our blood sugar rises and then it comes back down again after some time. Both the intensity of the rise and fall of our blood sugar, as well as the time frame in which the peaks and valleys occur, is very dependent on the types of foods we consume. Our overall health, especially our hormonal and metabolic health, also plays a huge part in our blood sugar response. Each person being highly unique will respond quite differently to various types of foods. This is why, in my work, I emphasize the importance of individualized diets.
It is undesirable to put our body on a giant blood sugar roller coaster. We want to keep our blood sugar on a gentle wave, most of the time. Sometimes it may actually be desirable to have a bit of an insulin peak perhaps, but not on a daily basis. This would be primarily for healthy individuals with overall good blood sugar control. By the way, insulin is what is secreted in the body to handle the rise of our blood sugar following a meal. Usually we want to keep insulin secretion rather low by consuming meals that have only minimal impact on our blood sugar. Did I say I wouldn’t get too sciencey? I didn’t push it too far, did I?
Okay- moving on.
If we are eating a diet that keeps our blood sugar looking like a calm day on the ocean, then feelings of hunger (that empty, grumbly feeling in the tummy) are okay to let hang around a bit. It’s when the peaks and valleys in our blood sugar as so big that the HANGRY feeling can come on REAL QUICK with even the first signs of hunger. Otherwise, if we have good blood sugar control, the sensation in the tummy may even pass before returning again in a bit. And just a reminder, sometimes that feeling in the tummy can simply be a need for some hydration. If however, you’re starting to sense some of the other hunger signals I mentioned earlier, those are signs I would heed more quickly as a need for some fuel. Be sure to go back and read, “Make a List” to ask yourself some questions about the source of your hunger too, though.
Also be aware that if you’re getting several strong hunger sensations often throughout the day or even several times a week or month, this would be a good time to evaluate your diet and the health of your body. It’s quite possible you’re not eating enough food in general or maybe you’re not meeting other nutrition needs to help you remain satiated, maintain good blood sugar control, and maintain hormonal and metabolic health.
After we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, THIS is the point I really wanted to hit on that I think can be quite helpful for determining if you’re truly hungry – whether it be to have a snack or meal or you’ve just eaten a snack or meal and feel pretty certain you’ve probably “had enough,” but still feel like you want something more and are wondering if you are REALLY STILL HUNGRY.
Ask yourself if you would eat a salad or some sort of rather “plain-ish” veggie.
This seems to work REALLY well! Think to a time when you’ve been really hungry. When you dive into a great big salad or plate of veggies (and quite likely other foods too), it all tastes sooo delicious and satisfying!
If when you think of veggies now, are you interested?
If not, you’re probably not really hungry! Now I’m not saying veggies are the thing you MUST eat if you discover they do sound good and you feel you’ve determined you are still hungry, though they couldn’t hurt. This is just a great way to determine whether you are or are not hungry. And if your response right now is, “well I don’t like veggies anyway,” then we’ve got some work to do, my friend!
I’ll make one last point.
If after asking the veggie question you decide you should have more to eat, maybe take a look at what was in your meal? Was it low in overall nutrients, simply low in FOOD, or low in protein, fats, or healthy carbohydrates? Is there something intuitively your body wants? Be honest – dessert may fill your belly or satisfy your taste buds for a few minutes, but it’s not going to assist you very well with blood sugar and hunger control. If all you feel hungry for is dessert or more of the delicious meal you made, it’s likely just more flavor-explosion you’re craving. But perhaps you’re craving more fats and you’re telling yourself you’ve already had too much fat. Or maybe you want more protein, but you feel you’ve already had an appropriate serving size. The more we tune into our bodies and listen in an honest way to our intuition, the more we will adopt a diet that is well-suited to our individual needs. If you have concerns or fears about certain foods or food groups or lots of food rules, these things may lead you to ignore your body’s signals and your wise intuition! I’d LOVE to help you overcome these things if this speaks to you. I’d also love to help you determine how to get your blood sugar in the “calm day on the ocean” range.
Ahhhhhhh! What a sigh of relief!
So, let me know if you’ve ever tried using this question to help you determine your level of hunger. Or let me know, if you try it now, how it works for you. I think it’s a simple and effective hack!