You’ve probably experienced a moment when you immediately devoured the first best treat you could get your hands on. This can happen at home, but also on the street when you walk past the bakery, for example. You see something you are craving and the temptation to buy that pastry, that bag of chips or that ice cream completely takes over you.
However, are you really hungry when you do this?
To explain this feeling, we must start with a standard meaning of the concept of ‘hunger’:
‘Hunger is the sensation that indicates the natural need to supply the body with substance. This sensation is produced by substances that work in the brain, in the hypothalamus.’
When you think about those moments in the past when you were suddenly taken over by the urge to eat, it may become clear that you weren’t really hungry at all in those moments. Maybe you had eaten a meal just before that, but you still felt the need to eat something.
Perhaps at those times you were completely unaware of the physical state of your stomach or digestive process or in more severe cases, the possibility that your blood sugar was on the low side, causing you to experience fatigue or dizziness.
In situations like this, it is important to know the difference between the urge to eat because we are hungry and the urge to eat when we are not actually physically hungry. This distinction makes all the difference and will help us control our appetite for food.
With this information in mind, try thinking about how often you eat without actually feeling hungry. Why are you doing this? These kinds of choices and actions can be strongly influenced by our moods, emotions and different situations we find ourselves in during the day.
Situations that urge us to eat when we are not hungry
1. Stress from your job or exams at school
These kinds of stressful situations can manifest physically through the urge to smoke, eat or drink more.
In addition, in these kinds of situations our judgment can become weak and we can lose control to some extent. At moments like this, it often happens that people unconsciously turn to unhealthy food (greasy, salty, junk food and sweets).
When we are stressed, we often eat at the wrong times. For example, we are constantly snacking or we tend to eat a lot of food at night. When we do this, it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much we eat. It is important to always keep track of how much you eat in a day.
This constant snacking and eating unhealthy foods can actually create even more stress and anxiety. It can make us feel guilty or frustrated about our actions or what we ate.
2. Worry when faced with change
You often hear that people can’t sleep because they are worried about something. And when someone cannot sleep, there is a chance that he will get out of bed in the middle of the night to eat or drink something.
Sometimes we eat to calm our nerves, as if our nerves are the grumbling in our stomach.
It is important to know which situation causes us stress or which situation is not part of our normal routine in order to determine where our urge to eat comes from.
Worrying about whether we will be able to achieve something or how something will turn out can cause a lot of stress in the context of change in our lives. It can cause us to get a lack of sleep or not sleep well or to be completely preoccupied with the possible consequences that certain changes can have. This accumulation of stress can have a lot of influence on our eating behavior.
3. When commercials affect our urge to eat
The world of marketing knows very well how to respond to certain emotions and needs of people and makes full use of these human weaknesses to sell more products. They make sure we hum their tunes, know their trademarks, and recognize their logos.
When we see or hear an advertisement for a certain product, we feel that we are tempted to consume this product, regardless of the time and situation we find ourselves in at that moment. How many times have you seen an advertisement for a certain drink and immediately felt the urge to go to the store to buy this drink?
What can we do to control our urge to eat?
Try to keep track of how many hours in a row you don’t eat. If it’s less than three hours, try not to eat anything for a while. If you ate something less than three hours ago, there is a good chance that you are not really hungry yet.
Take a step back, take a deep breath and try to assess your emotional state. Are you nervous? Have you been stressed all day? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are probably not really hungry, but rather the urge to distract yourself in some way or to rid yourself of this emotional turmoil.
The next time you’re watching TV and see a certain drink or snack in a program, commercial or movie that immediately makes you feel the need to grab a snack or drink yourself, try grabbing a glass of water first. Give it a try and see if it can help you resist the urge for this drink or snack.
In general, regardless of the reason you want to eat without actually being hungry, it is especially important to acknowledge and accept this urge so that you can identify its cause. Only in this way can the real source of the stress you experience be confronted or resolved.