Do you often eat a meal, but still feel hungry afterwards? Do you think about food for a large part of the day? Can you snack and nibble your way through the entire day?

An increase in appetite is common after a workout or during pregnancy, but if neither of these fits your situation it is worth looking into the possible causes of your constant hunger.

Here are six possible causes of hunger that may be affecting you:

  1. Insufficient sleep: There are many side effects of not getting enough sleep, but you may not know that sleep deprivation disrupts the production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Leptin is released to suppress appetite, and ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite, so if you aren’t getting sufficient sleep it disrupts these key hormones and can lead to excessive eating. If you struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, or just wake feeling unrefreshed, taking magnesium with your evening meal should help.
  2. Not drinking enough water: As hunger and thirst are both regulated in the same part of the brain, you may actually be thirsty but could think you are hungry. To avoid this, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15-20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry. Make a habit of taking a bottle of water with you everywhere you go so it is easily accessible for when you may get hunger pangs. This could stop you from overeating, as well as the many other benefits of drinking water. Drinking coffee, tea and herbal tea can have similar benefits.
  3. Stress: When you are stressed your body releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can make you feel like you need extra energy, causing your appetite to go into overdrive and likely cause a food binge. Alternatively, you could manage your stress by listening to music, going for a walk or doing some meditation or yoga. These methods are much more beneficial and won’t lead to weight gain. When you feel stressed or anxious, cortisol causes you to lose magnesium in your urine. This can lead to magnesium deficiency. People who lack magnesium have poor stress coping abilities.
  4. Eating too quickly: It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain you are full. Remind yourself to eat slowly and appreciate the taste of the food you are consuming. You could even count to five in your head before swallowing to help with digestion. Some people like to say a short prayer of gratitude for the food they are about to eat, and this helps them slow down. If you are eating in company, become more involved in conversation so you are having breaks between your bites. These tips will allow your brain time to register fullness.
  5. Overloading on refined carbs: Refined carbohydrates are those that are made from sugar and refined grains or flour. These have a high Glycemic Index (GI) and glycemic load. The GI refers to a scale that is used to measure the effect of specific carbohydrate foods on blood glucose levels. Refined carbs are present in many processed foods such as cakes, cookies, crackers, chips, pastry, pasta, chocolate, lollies, candy and ice-cream. When you eat these foods they are rapidly converted into blood sugar, which spikes insulin levels and this causes you to reach for more carbohydrates, even though your body does not need it. Although it is not necessary to eliminate carbs altogether, I recommend you go for more minimally processed carbs such as beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Glicemic Balance capsules help to stabilize your blood sugar. This significantly reduces cravings and hunger.
  6. Not eating enough fat or protein: By fat we are referring to the naturally occurring saturated and unsaturated fat that is present in foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, cheese, butter, full fat yogurt, coconut flesh, olive oil, avocados, seeds and nuts. Fat and protein can make you feel fuller for longer, and this especially applies when eating a meal containing both. Fats and proteins do not stimulate the production of insulin; this is fantastic news because insulin is a powerful fat-storing hormone! Try to eat first class protein with every meal, like fish, chicken, meat, eggs, protein powder, cheese or plain full fat yoghurt.

For more information see the book I Can’t Lose Weight and I don’t know why.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.