Feeling like you’re always peckish? Find yourself in the kitchen or pantry constantly looking for something to eat? Always hungry even though you’ve just eaten?
You’re not alone. It’s a common symptom and there are many reasons for it. We sat down with Naturopath, Vesna Hrsto to find out why this happens.
1. Low blood sugar levels
A drop in blood sugar levels will trigger our desire to eat, even if we don’t feel hungry.
When we eat foods high in sugar or processed carbohydrates, our sugar levels rise and the body releases insulin to move the sugar out of the blood quickly, as high levels are toxic for the body. This causes the sugar level to drop again, and we feel hungry or peckish.
Blood sugar levels are also affected by exercise, sleep, and stress.
2. Nutrient deficiencies
Cravings and constant hunger can be the way our body communicates to us about vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Magnesium is linked with increased cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. For those who don’t have a sweet tooth but tend to enjoy more savory/ salty foods then sodium, potassium, or electrolyte minerals may be low. Low iron is also linked to cravings.
3. Lack of sleep
Sleep impacts our appetite hormones, which is why lack of sleep is linked to metabolic and weight issues. If you don’t get enough sleep,7 hrs or less, then you’ll most likely eat more the next day.
Studies have found that sleep deprivation is similar to a hangover and people tend to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates.
If you’re not feeling engaged, mentally, it can lead to boredom eating. So rather than actual hunger, this kind of eating is really just filling in the time with mindless eating.
When we eat mindlessly, we can consume much more than we realize and never feel satisfied and tend to eat more later. Eat with awareness, this is easier when we’re not eating at the desk or while watching TV or scrolling through social media.
5. You’re tired
It’s common to feel peckish when you’re energy levels are low, we look to food to perk us up. But when we’re chronically tired and we don’t realise it because it’s become ‘normal’, then we’ll feel peckish often in order to get an energy boost.
Correct underlying tiredness so your body has the energy it needs to function optimally.
6. Too much sugar or processed foods
The sugar content of packaged food is high in fructose which doesn’t satisfy our appetite in the same way as whole foods do, even fruit.
Choose a nutrient-rich diet, choose unpackaged foods, and avoid takeaway meals as they are often rich in processed oils and sugar.
7. You’re stressed
One of the ways we soothe ourselves is through food. When we’re stressed, we crave sugar or carbohydrates as the body will convert these to glucose to give us the energy to handle stress. It also shifts our brain to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we feel more rational, in control and decisive.
Often just getting away from the computer or phone for a 10min walk is a much better way to reduce stress and the need for more food.
8. You’re not eating enough protein, fibre or healthy fats
If your meals are centered around carbohydrates, it will leave you feeling unsatisfied and can trigger hunger within a couple of hours.
It’s best to combine our macronutrients for each meal, such as protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats
Protein, such as animal protein from chicken, meat, fish or plant-based proteins, is filling, provides the building blocks for a healthier (leaner) body, and will keep you satisfied for hours.
When combined with fibre, a type of carbohydrates, such as vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds it will reduce the desire to snack or eat again, plus it’s great for gut health.
Adding healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds are responsible for keeping us satisfied for longer periods of time, while also providing health benefits for the brain, hormone and energy production, digestive health, and much more.
Thirst can be misinterpreted as hunger, but if we’re not regular water drinkers we don’t always recognize the signs of thirst.
When you’re next peckish, try drinking water first.
10. Emotional eating
Are you eating your feelings? We all have feelings or emotions that are uncomfortable and that we’d like to avoid – Anger, sadness, boredom, unhappiness, worry, shame, apathy, guilt, etc
Eating isn’t a good tool to resolve emotions and can lead to unhealthy food choices. Find better ways to be with your emotions, and remember that everyone has uncomfortable feelings, it’s a normal part of being human.
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For the past two decades, Vesna has made a name for herself as an Executive Wellbeing Coach and Mind-Body Peak Performance Specialist. She has worked with thousands of high-achieving women around the country to help them experience elevated energy, mental clarity & peak physical wellness so they can reach their highest potential – https://vesnahrsto.com