Do you find that you never really feel full after a meal? Could you happily graze on food all day long? Constant hunger is a common problem. It can make it impossible to achieve a healthy weight, and places stress on the digestive system. You may end up feeling quite bloated and uncomfortable by the end of the day.

Feeling hungry all the time can have many potential causes. Sometimes they are primarily emotional, and sometimes they’re physical and due to hormonal problems. It’s also possible that you’ve developed some bad habits and now associate certain times of the day or certain activities with eating. Here are some possible explanations and solutions for excessive hunger.

You feel stressed and anxious

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. At the moment there is a lot of fear and uncertainty in the world, and your day to day life may have become disrupted. Try to find healthy ways to manage your stress, such as listening to music, going for a walk or doing some meditation or yoga. These methods are much more beneficial and won’t compromise your health. 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.

You haven’t had enough 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.

You’re eating more carbohydrate than your body can tolerate

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 carbohydrate, 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 vegetables, seeds and nuts. Glicemic Balance capsules help to stabilize your blood sugar. This significantly reduces cravings and hunger.

You don’t eat enough protein or fat

By fat I am 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 cream and oil, 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 significantly 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 yogurt.

You don’t drink 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.

You eat too quickly and don’t pay attention to your food

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.

Overeating can be a difficult habit to break, but hopefully these tips will help you find a solution.

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