6 reasons why you’re always hungry


Emma Thornton
Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


17 June 2019

Why are you always hungry?

If you feel constantly hungry or experience regular cravings, you might be wondering what’s going on. Some common reasons for feeling hungry all the time can include:

1. Your input isn’t matching your output

2. You’re actually thirsty

3. You’re distracted

4. You’re digestion isn’t up to scratch

5. Your blood sugar levels aren’t stable

6. You’re nutrient deficient

Throughout this blog we explore these themes, including some common symptoms and of course, include what can be to help curbing these uncomfortable pangs, to help prevent them developing  into more regular, unhelpful habits!

1. Your input isn’t matching your output

If you’re feeling hungry a lot of the time rather than just the odd monthly craving, then it’s time to take a closer look at how your food intake is matching your output. 

Although a food diary can be a very helpful tool and a good place to start, in order to really put in context what you’re consuming (we often greatly over or underestimate the calories we’re consuming from foods and drinks until it’s written in front of us!), there could also be something else underlying that could be draining our resources.

In cases of excess exercise or stress, we need extra resources to help fuel us through, plus if you’re on any strict diets, you’ll most likely end up feeling hungrier (and eventually give in!). Remember, overly strict regimes aren’t often sustainable. 

Then, there’s also the influence of difference hormones internally, which could also be skewing our desire for food. Leptin is a hormone predominantly release by adipose or fat cells, which influences our desire to stop eating. In a state called leptin resistance, we don’t respond to leptin as we should and we can end up not receiving the cue that we’re ‘full’. Leptin resistance may go hand in hand with being more overweight, so it can often turn into a vicious cycle.

Please note, if your appetite seems to be really off-kilter, it could be linked to another underlying issue such as a thyroid imbalance, so always have a check up with the doctor if you’re in any doubt.

What can be done to help?

Keep a food diary so you become more aware of your eating habits – otherwise, we may be in denial as to how much we’re really consuming. Planning meals and snacks is also an effective tactic to ensuring you’re fuelling yourself suitably throughout the day. 

Also, research suggests it’s actually good for us to be hungry now and again1 (hence some of the success of regimes involving intermittent fasting), but of course not overly so; simply sticking to your main meals each day and not overdoing it on snacks, or extending your overnight fast very slightly, can all prove to be useful tactics. 

2. You’re actually thirsty

We like to bang on about water here at A.Vogel, but it’s for good reason – we promise! As well as helping almost every system in your body, it turns out that appetite regulation is no exception when it comes to water. 

See, hunger and thirst are thought to have some degree of crossover in the body – both physically (a tummy that has been primed with some water may be less unhappy!) as well as metabolically (water helps all your cells and hormones work optimally) and research proves it. Drinking at least 1.5l of water daily, including intakes specifically half an hour before food, was found to promote better weight loss and healthier appetite scores in overweight individuals.2

What can be done to help?

Whilst I don’t recommend drinking alongside meals, drinking throughout the day and in the lead up to meal times (leaving at least 30 minutes either side) can certainly prove useful. 

Plain water, rather than fizzy water, is thought to be preferable when it comes to hunger parameters and if you’re in any way reluctant to stock up on plain water, add some fresh fruit or herbs to add a touch of zing. 

3. You’re distracted

Emotional eating is thought to be on the rise, but there could be many different aspects to this. Firstly, comfort eating is one issue that may trouble us, perhaps as a result of monthly symptoms in women, or more general low mood

However, one other common issue could be boredom. Depending on our daily routines we may turn to food in a desperate bid to keep us occupied and particularly, like myself, if you’re quite the foodie and love a wide varieties of grub, it can all be too tempting! 

Finally, a more recent, modern-day problem is distracted eating. This usually occurs in front of screen; be it your desk at work, a TV (taking centre stage many homes nowadays), or a mobile phone, which many of us are guilty of having glued by our sides! 

Regardless of which scenario might be affecting you, the outcome is often similar. We end up eating aimlessly without much thought to the foods we are tucking into. Unsurprisingly, this can often result in adverse effects on our blood sugar levels, waistlines and our mood.

What can be done to help?

If you suspect you’re guilty of distracted eating, mindful eating is a useful tactic to get in the way of. Despite the fancy name, this can be done easily by anyone and simply means slowing down, and being more conscious of the food that you’re eating. 

Sit down at a table, concentrate on chewing properly and actually take the time to enjoy the flavour and textures of your meals. This will allow for more positive eating behaviours which can offer a whole number of benefits; from boosting energy levels, managing your appetite to supporting a healthy body weight.

4. Your digestion isn’t up to scratch

Recently we’ve given some attention to how your digestion, together with your eating habits (the two very much go hand in hand) could influence our appetite and waistline.

Firstly, eating too quickly and/or not chewing properly puts your digestion off to a bad start straight away. This means your digestive system doesn’t have sufficient time to prepare in order to digest your food properly and absorb all the essential nutrients contained in your food effectively. 

See, we need sufficient digestive enzymes to break down the food we eat properly, but we need also need generous stomach acid levels in order to signal for subsequent digestive processes to take place accordingly. Our small intestine, the next step along from the stomach is also responsible for releasing yet more digestive enzymes, but arguably even more importantly, specific appetite-related hormones such as ghrelin. Ghrelin is also known as the hunger hormone – so we really need to get this right if we’re hoping to get our appetite in check.

What can be done to help? 

Eating slowly and deliberately are helpful habits to employ if you’re trying to support your digestion and ultimately your waistline. 

Another tip is to include some bitter herbs as an aperitif before your meals. If you struggle to include sufficient bitter wholefoods as part of your diet, a herbal tincture can be a suitable alternative. Yarrow complex, for example, is very bitter in taste and, when simply taken in a small splash of water, can help to prep your digestive system for upcoming meals.

My Top Tip:


If you struggle to get enough bitter tastes in the form of foods, why not try out adding some Yarrow bitters to your regime. Take these 5-10 minutes before your meals, 3 times daily, for best results.

"I suffer a lot from acid reflux and heartburn, this helped to make me feel better and calmed everything down. Would highly recommend."

 

Read what other people are saying about Yarrow.

5. Your blood sugar levels aren’t stable

If you find you’re hungry lots of the time, and more characteristically, struggle to get cravings under control (particularly for sweet treats), it could suggest that your blood sugar levels may be a little unsteady.

As we consume sugar (remember refined or white carbohydrates are also quickly converted into sugar into your system), our body quickly releases insulin in response. Insulin then works hard to clear the glucose from your blood, into your tissues, where it can hopefully be put to good use and used for energy. 

However, the quick actions of insulin can cause a sudden crash in your blood glucose levels, which in turn, can cause an increase in your appetite and in more extreme cases cravings – all in a desperate bid to raise your blood sugar levels once more. Unsurprisingly, this can often turn into a vicious cycle and isn’t good for our health in the long-term.

What can be done to help?

If ups and downs in your appetite are a common feature for you, plus you struggle with cravings, there are some things that can be done from home to help. 

Firstly, manage you meal timings; don’t leave too long between your meals and certainly don’t skip any meals completely; you’ll only risk knocking off your blood sugar levels and I can promise it won’t do your waistline any favours in the long run! 

Next, planning what you eat, as well as when you eat, is super important. High sugar items and sources of refined, or white carbs, should be limited, but it also helps to pair any carbohydrates with sources of healthy fats, protein and dietary fibre, both within main meals and snacks. These dietary elements known as macronutrients all help to slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream; variety is key! Interestingly, research has also suggested that the order of eating may also be important. It seems that filling up on vegetables and protein, before the carbohydrate element of your meal, may also have beneficial effects on your blood sugar.4 So, eating bread alongside or at the later stages of your meal, may be preferable, rather than being tempted to dive into the bread basket earlier on! 

Finally, some other less obvious lifestyle factors could also be having negative impacts on your blood sugar responses. Going for a walk after a meal helps support your blood sugar levels,5 as can getting sufficient sleep6 – more so by helping to keep tricky cravings in check in the first place! So those can most definitely be some helpful habits to put in place if you’re looking to make some changes.

6. You’re nutrient deficient

If you’re hungry all the time, one final area worth giving a little more attention is your nutrient intake. See, we need a number of nutrients to help support our blood sugar levels directly, but there may also be some more indirect processes going on.

Firstly, sufficient magnesium levels are crucial for helping to protect against insulin resistance. As we know, a healthy response to insulin is vital for helping to effectively manage your blood sugar levels. 

Next, vitamin D is another one to consider. It seems vitamin D has an array of health benefits that we don’t fully understand just yet and one of which could have links to appetite. A 2016 research review found that there may be some association between low levels of vitamin D and levels of leptin in the body – a hormone responsible for suppressing your appetite.7  

What can be done to help? 

The first step in encouraging better nutrient uptake is supporting your digestion, so as detailed above, some digestive bitters may help you to do just that. Next, eating fresh is helpful as nutrients don’t tend to exist so copiously in processed foods – surprise, surprise! 

Finally, you might want to consider topping up your nutrient intake with a supplement. Especially if you’re on prescribed medications, or are feeling overly stressed or are approaching menopause when hormonal fluctuations could be impacting your nutrient levels anyway, a daily dose of Balance Mineral Drink may be helpful to support a number of bodily processes.

 

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/mp2015220

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4121911/

3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914002396

4. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/38/7/e98

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27747394

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2084401/

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5042647/

 

Jan de Vries - Hawthorn-Garlic Complex Capsules

90 capsules

£ 9.99

Buy now

Jan de Vries Hawthorn-Garlic Complex Capsules contain organically cultivated garlic and the deep …
More info

Video: Fermented Tomato Ketchup

Ready to try something new? Watch Emma's recipe video for a delicious Fermented Tomato Ketchup!

Get the recipe

What are superfoods?

You've probably heard all the fuss about superfoods, but what does this mean, and what foods count as superfoods?

Find out now

How many fruit and veg portions?

Is 10 portions of fruit and vegetables daily really achievable? Our nutritionist Emma Ross tells us her thoughts.

Learn more

Kick it up a notch!

Our Herbamare combines herbs and vegetables with a little sea salt to create a delicious, healthy seasoning for any dish!

Find out more

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Super Smoothies e-Book