By Martha Robert
That doughnut at work seemed too good to miss. But now you want something else. Tasty in the moment, sugary drinks, candy, and pastries don’t give you lasting energy, so you’re soon hungry again. Better choices: anything with fiber, whole grains, fruits, or vegetables, healthy fats (salmon, nuts, avocado), and lean protein (such as eggs, beans, grilled chicken).
You’re stressed out
At first your body zaps away hunger with a hormone called adrenaline. But if your worries stick around a while, your system cranks up the levels of another hormone, cortisol. This one can make you want to eat everything in sight. When the stress goes, cortisol levels fall and your appetite usually gets back to normal.
Sometimes when you think you need to eat, you’re actually dehydrated. So maybe try drinking some water first. Still hungry? That lets you know you may need to eat something. And because you had that water, you may be less likely to over eat.
You “spike” your blood sugar
When you eat sweet or starchy carbs like doughnuts, pastries, or regular soda, they send a lot of sugar into your system at once. So your body releases the hormone insulin, which helps your cells use it as fuel or store it for later. But that flood of sugar can cause your body to make more insulin than you need. That can lower blood sugar too much and make you hungry.
You might have diabetes
This condition means your body has an energy problem. You may get hungry because your body thinks it needs more fuel. But the real problem is that you have trouble changing food into fuel. “Polyphagia” is the word doctors use for extreme hunger and can be a symptom of diabetes.You also may lose weight, pee more, and feel more tired. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
You have low blood sugar
Your doctor might call it hypoglycemia. It means there’s not enough fuel, or glucose, in your blood, and it can make you feel tired, weak, or dizzy. It can happen if you haven’t eaten in more than a few hours. If you have symptoms, your doctor may suggest that you keep an eye on your blood sugar and eat some carbs when it’s low. You may need to eat a little more, or your medication may need to be adjusted to help keep it from happening.