The surprising things that make you hungry

From lack of sleep to snacking on sugar, nutritionists say there are a range of things that wreak havoc with our appetite. Photo / Getty
From lack of sleep to snacking on sugar, nutritionists say there are a range of things that wreak havoc with our appetite. Photo / Getty

If you often find yourself raiding the cupboards and staring into the fridge, even after a meal, you aren't alone.

According to nutritionists, there are a number of crafty things that can trick the brain into thinking you're hungry, even when your body has enough fuel.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, health experts Gabriela Peacock, founder of GP Nutrition, and Shona Wilkinson at Superfooduk.com, have come up with a list of things that could be to blame for those inexplicable cravings.

Watching TV

It's easy to slip into the habit of snacking while our eyes are glued to the screen. To break the cycle of mindless munching in front of the telly, nutritionists reccommend having something else on hand to keep you busy while screen gazing, such as knitting or sewing, doing crosswords, or painting your fingernails.

Try replacing snacks with cups of herbal tea, or water with fruit in it.

Mistaking thirst for hunger

Dehydration is a common reason for your body thinking it's hungry. Aim for 6-8 large glasses of water a day, and more if you've been working out or if the weather's hot.

Try keeping a bottle of water handy so you can keep track of how much you've had to drink throughout the day. A key sign that it's thirst, not hunger, driving your appetite is if your urine is dark coloured.

As your body can mistake thirst for hunger, aim to drink about 6-8 glasses of water per day, and even more if you've done a workout. Photo / Getty
As your body can mistake thirst for hunger, aim to drink about 6-8 glasses of water per day, and even more if you've done a workout. Photo / Getty

Not getting enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc with your apetite control, because of its impact on the hormones leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin tells our brains when we are full, and can help to suppress appetite. When we haven't had enough sleep, leptin doesn't work correctly, while levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increase.

This leads to overeating, and craving snacks that are high in sugar.

Too many refined carbs

That sandwich with white bread, bowl of cereal or plate of pasta is readily broken down into sugar, which quickly enters the bloodstream, causing blood sugar levels to skyrocket.

After blood sugar spikes, it generally drops down again rapidly, leaving us feeling hungry and craving more sugar.

For a more stable release of energy, opt for wholegrains and protein, to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Refined carbohydrates like pasta and cereal can cause blood sugar levels to spike and fall, leaving you hungry and craving sugar. Photo / Getty
Refined carbohydrates like pasta and cereal can cause blood sugar levels to spike and fall, leaving you hungry and craving sugar. Photo / Getty

Carefuly placed advertising

Food companies know all too well how to catch our eye and trick us into eating. TV adverts at key times during the evening, and food advertising carefully placed at bus stops or on billboards have a powerful effect, and bring on cravings.

Being aware of the effect of advertising can help, so can muting the TV when the ads come on.

Nostalgia

As strange as it sounds, memory can trick you into feeling hungry. If you were given something sugary evey time you cried as a child, you could be in a pattern of reaching for the sweet treats during times of stress as an adult.

You've got PMS

Researchers have found that a woman's appetite increases during the second half of the menstrual cycle, particularly in the lead-up to menstruation.

To help manage cravings, focus on adding protein-rich foods to every meal, such as fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and minimise your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Caffeine and alcohol can have an effect on hormone balance, so try avoiding these if you're prone to PMS.


-nzherald.co.nz

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