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Why am I always hungry? How can I control my appetite?

Why am I always hungry? How can I control my appetite?

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Ellen A. Schur is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington and director of the University of Washington Center for Nutrition and Obesity Research.

Q: I feel like I’m always hungry. Why is this happening? What can I do to feel more satisfied?

A: There are a number of reasons why people feel hungry. You may not be eating enough to meet your body’s energy needs. But it’s more likely to be related to food choices or lifestyle factors. The type of food you eat, whether you’ve recently lost weight, how much you exercise, and how long you haven’t eaten can affect how often you feel hungry.

Here are some reasons why people feel hungry, even after eating a meal.

Eating ultra-processed foods

Research it showed that hunger is not the same for all foods. If you’re hungry, you’re probably craving it foods rich in calories — such as those high in sugar, carbohydrates or fat. This may be why people rarely say they crave an apple. Instead, we usually want tortilla chips, cookies, or pizza.

It sounds counterintuitive, but eating certain foods can make you feel hungrier. Carbohydrates do not they suppress hunger hormones as long as fat or protein. Ultra processed food it seems to stimulate the appetite, although scientists are still not clear why. And liquid sources of calories – such as smoothies – are less filling than solid ones.

What is ultra-processed food? What should I eat instead?

High-calorie foods, at least in rodents, cause inflammation in the areas of the brain that regulate body weight, which increases the consumption of these foods. It makes sense for them to eat as much as they can while food is plentiful bears before hibernation, for example. But if the same inflammation appears in brain in humansthis could create a cycle of feeling hungry and choosing high-energy foods over and over again.

Your hunger may also just be a matter of how life priorities affect energy needs. Think about your diet: When do you get hungry? After an intense workout? At night? People may feel less hungry immediately after exercise, but much hungrier hours or even days later.

You may be restricting your food intake during the day due to a busy schedule or trying to control your weight, but then feel food cravings or lack of satiety in the evening.

A common – but often overlooked – factor in your appetite is whether you’ve recently lost weight.

Body weight is a strictly regulated biological system. After losing weight, hormones in the blood signal to the brain that energy stores in the form of fat are being depleted. The availability of energy is critical for survival, so the brain acts to conserve energy and increase our desire to eat.

This happens regardless of your starting weight and even if you have had health problems related to your weight.

Experts agree that the brain strongly defends body fat levels and that this can lead to weight regain after weight loss. This accumulated research is why many scientists think we should consider obesity be a chronic disease and why treatment Recommendations more often include medication as well as lifestyle changes, especially for those with serious health problems related to their weight.

Generally, if you don’t meet the total daily energy needs of your body in order to maintain your weight, your brain will motivate you to eat. Skipping meals or a long period of time without eating stimulates the appetite through hormonal changes and the brain. You can experience this as a growling in your stomach, but also as a craving or urge.

It is also worth checking the list of medicines with your doctor. Some medicines for diabetes (glyburide, glipizide), neuropathy (gabapentin), and depression (mirtazapine) are associated with increased appetite and weight gain.

If your appetite has changed significantly, especially if you’ve gained or lost weight, it’s important to see your doctor. Loss of appetite can be accompanied by serious illnesses, including diabetes, cancer or depression. Increased appetite and weight gain are symptoms of hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome and sleep disorders.

If your hunger problems started as a child — when you were 5 or younger — rare genetic conditions may be the cause. Genes are another powerful influence: Studies have shown that the brain reacts similarly to food in identical twins, who also have similar initial appetite levels. Hormonal changes of puberty, pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome often affect appetite.

If you experience a loss of control or feel numb and consume large amounts of food to the point of discomfort, or purging after eating, then you should be evaluated for an eating disorder.

Stress, emotions and sleep

Stress levels, boredom, food cues, emotions and poor sleep can trigger your desire to eat. In these cases, mindful or intuitive eating can be a good strategy to explore, as well as address the underlying cause, such as ensuring good, quality sleep.

It may take time to work through these issues, so be kind to yourself. Feelings around food, weight and body image can be intense. Many people have experienced bias or discrimination because of it weight stigma, including from health workers. So if you are being blamed or shamed, seek medical help elsewhere. Everyone deserves to feel safe and supported when talking about weight and appetite issues.

Remember that there is a reason why the urge to eat is so powerful. Although our food system and nutrition have changed in modern times, our brain is still hardwired to survive. Even when we are not aware of it, this biological drive shapes our behavior.

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