Hunger has always been a bane to mankind since the dawn of time, and our body has adapted in ways to crave certain types of foods to cull hunger. Fast forward to the 21st century, the food industry and our diets have changed – but we haven’t.
Unfortunately, because of that, we are chugging in way too much food and that is why obesity rates and chronic diseases have shot up.
So if you want to learn what makes you go hungry and how to form a healthy relationship with food without getting fat, read on.
What Is Fullness?
It’s not surprising that when you fill your belly up, the organs in your digestive system signal to your brain that it’s time to stop. Sensory neurons (vagus nerve) in your stomach (GLP1R neurons) detect food by being stretched.
Signals are then sent to your brain to notify you that you are done. Leptin on the other hand acts as a long-term control of fullness. AKA reducing food cravings. They do that by signalling the hypothalamus via a complex string of neural circuitry.
Leptin plays a huge role in sustainable eating and weight control. Being produced by adipose tissue, its job is to maintain the energy homeostasis of your body. It also interacts with the mesolimbic dopamine system which is nerd talk for how you feel when you satisfy food cravings.
Studies have also shown the interaction between your gut microbiome and its relationship to the human brain. Thus addiction to certain foods or deep cravings can be influenced by the trillions of bacteria calling your intestines, home.
By eating slower, you will be fuller; and faster. You will also have fewer post-meal cravings like sweets and desserts. Ghrelin ( a hunger hormone) is greatly suppressed too.
Not only that, by eating slower, test subjects were shown to have a better appreciation of the meal and better enjoyment too.
Eat More Fibre & Protein
Protein satiates you faster and fibre keeps you full longer. Not only that, protein is a macronutrient that is essential for our daily bodily function, and muscle growth/repair. People who have a diet higher in protein have better appetite control, reduced food intake and a more successful weight loss program.
Fibre is important to feed our gut microbiome which in turn influences our immune system, food cravings and even overall lifespan. Fibre is also key to reducing constipation, regulating blood sugar & chronic inflammation.
Consume Mostly Whole/Fresh Foods & Reduce Ultra Processed Foods
Nutrition science has come to a point where it’s more than just macronutrients like proteins and carbs. Ultra-processed foods (UPS) are now in the limelight as to be the defining factor to cause weight gain.
Why? Well, first off, all foods are processed. However ultra-processed foods have ingredients that you can never find in a kitchen. Certain emulsifiers and plastics were found in USPs over the years.
During processing, foods lose their flavour and texture thus manufacturers add way more sodium and other compounds to thicken their flavour and texture.
All these things add together and now you have a food that you crave all day long, thus overconsuming it.
Drink Water Before & After Meals
Remember the stretched sensory nerves? Yeah, water (a liquid) takes up space and it will fill you up too. A great way is to have a glass of water (200ml) before a meal and if possible, have a nutritious bowl of soup.
Nutrients don’t get degraded due to high heat and all of the macro/micro nutrients get dissolved in the soup itself, thus creating a nutrient-rich source to consume from.