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How to spot real hunger and avoid overeating

How to spot real hunger and avoid overeating How to understand which hunger should not be satisfied with food (photo: Freepik)

Not every hunger needs to be satisfied with food. Sometimes, this feeling is triggered not by a physiological need to eat but by stress, visualizing dishes, and sound effects. Therefore, it is crucial to learn how to distinguish genuine hunger from "illusory" hunger, states nutritionist Anastasia Holoborodko.

What you need to know about hunger

"Hunger is a simpler concept, while appetite is associated with the activity of the feeding center in the hypothalamus and cortex. Food is used to build muscles, nerve endings, bones, the brain, the immune system, blood formation, and numerous reactions. This happens only when it's genuine - physiological, the true hunger of a hunter-gatherer," says the expert.

Types of hunger:

  • Physiological: when you feel like eating, the sensation is "hungry as a wolf."
  • Cellular: the body lacks nutritious food - a deficiency of micronutrients, monotonous refined food.
  • Hormonal: due to fluctuations in sugar, insulin resistance, leptin, low dopamine, thyroid gland disorders.
  • Environmental hunger (or appetite): arises when you see tasty food.
  • Receptor: the body lacks tastes (bitter, sour, sweet). Monotony in the diet/lack of flavors, spices, herbs, berries in dishes.
  • Biorhythmic hunger: during circadian hormone peaks, the desire to eat appears.

What is "illusory" hunger

According to Holoborodko, illusory hunger can occur when there is a visualization of food.

"It is impossible to resist the smell of fresh bread, coffee, fried bacon, or baking with cinnamon, vanilla. Stores, salons, airlines that order incredible aroma combos for customers work on the same principle. Is this real hunger? No," explains the nutritionist.

She also notes that "illusory" hunger can be triggered by sound effects - the sound of opening chips, tearing packages, uncorking a bottle, and so on.

"Scheduled hunger - if you are used to eating 5 times a day. The body likes rhythm, the organism loves habits, the main thing is to make them useful," says the expert.

There is also emotional hunger. When a person feels bored, sad, nostalgic, or lonely, they may want to reward themselves with food.

"Cellular hunger arises when the body lacks a certain micro or macro element in the diet. It is quite animalistic and intuitive, do not ignore it," advises Holoborodko.

Stress can also provoke hunger. In such cases, a person craves quick energy - sugars and carbohydrates. However, it is better to provide the brain with the right fats.

"Boredom hunger" is a habit of chewing something before the TV, during watching series," says the nutritionist.

She notes that there is also nocturnal hunger, which mainly arises from an irrationally distributed diet, incorrect breakfast, mealtime, or the diet itself. In such cases, it is necessary to think about what the person is doing wrong and adjust the diet.

Also, read about the ideal times for breakfast and dinner to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

Earlier, we wrote about why purple vegetables and fruits must be included in your diet.