Are you hungry? Or are you bored? Wait, are you sad or angry? It’s so hard to tell when you are ravenous and ready to butcher a bag of granola.
So, are you hungry? Check out these nine tips to see if you are really hungry (or just got a case of the emotional munchies!)1. You didn’t get enough sleep last night.
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Karen Ansel, RD. explains: “When our bodies are drained, levels of leptin—a hormone produced by our fat cells that controls our appetite—decrease, while levels of gherlin—a hormone produced by our stomach that stimulates our appetite—increase. Getting eight hours of sleep a night is the easiest thing you can do to prevent overeating.”
2. You’re taking medication that causes hunger as a side effect.
You need the medication to help you, but it also makes you gain weight. What can you do? Milton Stokes, RD, owner of One Source Nutrition, LLC gives the breakdown: “Medication that contains mild steroids, like prednisone, a corticosteroid, ramp up hunger big time. If you’ve already eaten a normal-size meal, ignore the drug-inflated hunger.”
3. You’re thirsty or dehydrated.
Some of symptoms of dehydration make you feel ravenously hungry. If you are hungry, drink a giant glass of water, wait ten minutes and see if the hunger subsides.
4. It’s “mealtime.”
Ansel gives tips on how to regulate your hunger: “Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: ‘Am I really hungry?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ either eat a smaller portion or put off the meal for an hour—though no longer than that.”
5. You just worked out.
Your body doesn’t need extra calories after a strenuous work-out, it needs nourishment. It’s asking you for protein or whole grains.
6. Not enough time has passed since you finished your meal.
“Appetite hormones need time to tell your brain you’re full,” explains Sandon. Eat slowly and let your body know it’s being fed.
7. The women around you are eating.
Women tend to mirror other women’s eating habits. “When one overdoes it, the rest often follow along,” Ansel confirms. What do you do? Run away from the scene of the gluttonous crime!
8. You smell or see food.
The same theory applies here. Run! “We tend to eat with our senses more than our stomachs.” says Ansel. Solution? Hide it, throw it away, give it away, keep away from the food that you don’t need!
9. You’re stressed out.
“Studies show that when people recognize they’re stressed, they are more likely to turn to high-fat, salty or sugary foods,” says Sandon. “These foods both are comforting and feel good in the mouth,” she adds. But it’s not all about emotional eating. Sandon notes that your body’s chemical reaction to stress could also cause hunger pangs. “Increased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and insulin may be associated with triggering appetite.” Either way, appetite control boils down to decision-making. Before reaching for the ice cream tub, try quickly clearing your mind.