You’re at your desk at work or home and you suddenly feel those familiar pangs. Your stomach starts that insistent growling, your concentration stops and you can only fix that growling with one thing – food.Have you often wondered what causes this feeling and why it is taking over your life-wanting food all the time? The answer is pretty simple? when your body really needs something to eat it lets you know. It does this by sending signals to you – hunger pangs. Psychological cues are also thought to make you believe you are hungry. The sight, taste or smell of food can send you right to the sandwich bar faster that you can say “could I have a?please?” Particular environments you are accustomed to eating in can set you off even if you’re not hungry. We have our food rituals as well: going to the movies, the supermarket we always want something to eat. We automatically associate these settings with eating.
A tip a well-respected nutritionist once recommended was to “only do your shopping on a full stomach. Never do your weekly shopping when you are hungry. You will end up buying far too much and jam-pack your trolley with sugar rich foods you don’t really need.”
Why do I get cranky when I’m hungry?
Did you know that glucose and oxygen are sources of energy, which come from the brain? When it is lacking in something the brain is the part of our body responsible for those mood swings associated with hunger we have all suffered from time to time. One drop in blood sugar stirs on the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is directly related to feelings of irritability. This is not, however the case for everyone – some women are lucky enough not to get moody if they are hungry.
Eating slowly – will it make me eat less?
Yes. If you vacuum down a meal in 10 seconds you aren’t giving your body enough time to fire the signals in your stomach, small intestine and liver to let them know you are no longer hungry. They need up to 20 minutes to be notified of this. A nice leisurely meal gives your body and brain enough time to catch up with your fork. You should never eat your meals in front of a television, video or reading a book. You should pay attention to what you are eating and take your time. If you do this you are less likely to overeat.
Will my stomach stretch if I eat more?
This is an interesting one. Your stomach will only stretch if you keep eating bigger and bigger meals continuously. If you only treat yourself to the occasional big family feast this won’t happen, so be wary of eating more and more. The best way to handle this one is be slowly trimming your portion sizes back to reverse the process. If you do this for a week or two your stomach will shrink back down to its original size.