We’ve all had those days where we can’t stop raiding the fridge.Case in point: I ate about an hour ago, but there’s a slice of leftover pizza calling my name.
I know my body doesn’t need food right now — it’s not like I’m torching calories while I’m typing this — so why am I so hungry?
No matter how committed you are to eating healthy, it can be hard when you feel like you’re always hungry.
But if you understand how hunger works — and why you sometimes feel ravenous for no apparent reason — you can take control of your cravings and keep your healthy eating habits on track.
How Hunger Works
When your stomach is empty or your blood sugar dips, your gut releases a hormone called ghrelin that signals your brain that it’s time to eat.
When you’ve eaten enough, you release leptin, a hormone that signals fullness.
This basic physiological need for food is called “homeostatic hunger.” And if homeostatic hunger were the only thing we needed to deal with, we’d probably be totally okay with eating exactly the right amount of plain chicken breast and raw veggies at every meal.
Of course, that’s not how it actually works. For starters, there are several factors that can mess with your metabolism or throw your hunger and fullness hormones out of whack.
“Gut hormone levels, predisposition to obesity, stress, and sleep issues all influence hunger,” says Caroline Apovian, M.D., Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center.
And to make things even more complicated, ther