You ate breakfast, but your stomach is growling by the time you sit down at work. Lunch was an hour ago — and you’re wondering if it’s too early for a snack? You made a healthy dinner, but you’re still craving more. In other words, you’re hungry all the time.
Can you relate to any of these scenarios? If your answer is yes, first know this: You’re definitely not alone.
Many of us have struggled with cravings, hunger, and symptoms of low blood sugar at some point in our lives — if not all of our lives. But before you go blaming your lack of self-control, know that hunger is complicated. It involves multiple hormones and complex signaling and, according to an article published by Colorado State University, “there are different ways that this [hunger] system can be disrupted or overridden.”
Why You’re Hungry All the Time
Abigail King, a functional nutritionist based in Charleston, South Carolina, says that stress is a big culprit. Your adrenal gland secretes hormones that control your stress response. Think: cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA. When these are chronically elevated, “it can cause you to have low blood sugar, leading to cravings and hunger,” she says.
Another potential cause? You’re eating too many processed and refined foods, which often lack the in healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals that fuels our body. When we eat these foods, “our blood sugar spikes for a short period of time and then crashes, leaving us feeling fatigued, and craving the next sugary or salty food,” she says.
Or, you might just be dehydrated. Up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and it’s possible you’re mistaking thirst for hunger. Sweetened beverages, juices, and smoothies have only added to this problem. As the authors of a 2009 study wrote, “beverages have become a significant source of dietary energy…the relationships between thirst, hunger, eating, and drinking have blurred, with uncertain health consequences.”
So what should you do?
What to Do When You’re Hungry
Second, add a high-nutrient multivitamin to your routine. “Be sure it includes the minerals chromium and vanadium,” says King. “These are key minerals that help to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood and maintain blood sugar balance.”
Finally, focus on foods that are known being filling and nutrient-dense. At the top of King’s list are avocados, lentils, quinoa, and apples. “These foods are a great source of fiber, omega-3s, and loaded with vitamins and minerals,” she says.
Here are a few recipes to get you started: