AIt’s been a few hours since you ate, and your stomach start to grumble. Those pangs you feel are actually contractions of the stomach or intestines alerting your body that it needs food. The emptier your stomach, the louder the growls. Hunger can be elicited by both biological and psychological influences. For example, low blood sugar, or the aroma, sight or even thought of food play an active role in triggering the brain to release the hunger hormones (ghrelin, leptin) that work in harmony with blood sugar to help regulate how much and what you eat, and when you’ve had enough.
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In a perfect world, the levels of these hormones stabilize during digestion, and you feel satiated enough until your next meal or snack. But if you still feel those hunger pangs afterward, they may not necessarily be a sign of hunger, but could simply be as a result of the food you ate, or even a side effect of a possible or existing medical condition.
Diets higher in refined carbohydrates, especially empty-calorie foods (soda, candy, sugar, processed foods and artificial sweeteners), can wreak havoc on your system by throwing blood sugar levels and hormones off track and not allow your body to recognize when it’s full. And even seemingly healthy foods such as granola and commercially produced smoothies, which are often high in sugar, can leave you wanting more.
Maintain harmony by consuming a balanced diet of three meals a day, plus one to two smaller snacks in between, comprised of high-quality, fiber¬rich carbohydrates that take longer to digest and also keep blood sugars and those hunger hormones in check. try whole-grain breads, cereal, oatmeal, leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach) and fruits (apples, pears, berries), as well as lean protein (wild salmon, chicken, turkey, low-fat yogurt) and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts).
Eating too fast may also trigger post-meal hunger pangs. Wait at least 10 to 20 minutes for your brain to receive the proper signals that you’re full before picking up your fork again. Sometimes, dieting can have an adverse effect if you’re restricting more calories than your body actually needs. Make sure your diet is the appropriate calorie level for your body type and activity level. Certain medications, as well as, diabetes, ulcers, thyroid issues and even pregnancy can affect appetite as well.
Listen to your body. try using the hunger scale of one (weak and lightheaded) to 10 (stuffed) as your guide. Avoid the extremes, and recognize how it feels to be between four and six as the optimal range (slightly hungry to satisfied). Additionally, a detailed food diary may help you figure out your pitfalls and where to make changes. If eating past the point of fullness to alleviate those pangs happens more often than not, overtime, it can lead to weight gain and other health issues, so it’s a good idea to consult your doctor and/or nutritionist.
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