If you often feel hungry, you are not alone!
There are many reasons to feel hungry. Of course, the most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry. Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.
But other times, the hunger may not be physical hunger. It may be a craving or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in life.
It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.
We're going to talk about the difference between both of these types of hunger, and give you some tips how to figure out which is which.
And, of course, we will give you a very filling recipe too!
Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger
Your "physical" hunger is regulated by the body through your hunger hormones. And of course, it should be. You don't want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time. So, you're programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.
"Psychological" or "emotional" hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It's based on a thought or feeling. It's what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery. It's not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.
So, here’s how to tell which is which.
Eight steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not
1 - The first thing you need to do is stop to evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.
2 - Now that you’ve stopped. Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention.
3 - Have a big glass of water. Now observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion, but that may or may not be the right one. So listen to your body and mind very deeply.
4 - If you do find that your feelings may be the source, then face them. Acknowledge and observe them. They may just be needing comfort and recognition, even if they sound like they need food. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger.
5 - If you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.
6 - Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger.
7 - If it's physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it.
8 - Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.
The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for!
But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.
Now you know our eight steps to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.
Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually physically needs (and not overdo it).
Recipe (Filling): Slow-Cooker Roast Beef and Potatoes
2 onions, sliced (do this and go to step 1 before preparing the rest of the ingredients)
4 lb beef roast
1 lb potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled & sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 dashes dried thyme or sage or parsley
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 dashes salt & pepper
Place a layer of sliced onion at the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the lid on and turn up to high; this will start caramelizing the onions while you wash and slice the rest of the ingredients.
When all ingredients are ready, take off slow cooker lid and add meat and the prepared vegetables, garlic, herbs, and spices.
Cook on high for 3 - 5 hrs, or on low for 6 - 8hrs, or until done.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can substitute different vegetables if you like. For example, you can use sweet potatoes in place of the regular potatoes; or parsnips instead of carrots.
Yes, there are lots of different kinds of salt: pink, iodized, kosher, sea, etc. They come from salt mines in the ground, or from evaporating the water out of salt water. What they all have in common is that infamous mineral that we're going to talk about below: sodium.
In food, salt is used for both flavour, and as a preservative. Salt helps to preserve food by drawing out the water that bacteria and mold need to grow. Hence, preserving the food from spoiling as quickly.
Would you be surprised to know that 75% of our salt intake comes not from the salt shaker? It comes from processed foods. Snacks like chips, pretzels and salted nuts are included here. But so are canned foods, pickled foods, boxed foods, deli meats, restaurant food, and fast food.
Salt vs. Sodium
Salt is actually "sodium chloride." It's about 40% sodium and 60% chloride; this means that one teaspoon of salt (5,000 mg) contains about 2,000 mg of sodium.
Sodium itself is not that bad! In fact, it’s an essential mineral and an important electrolyte in the body. It helps with fluid balance, and proper nerve and muscle function.
Too much sodium though is not great! Regularly getting too much sodium can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, stomach cancer, and kidney stones.
That one teaspoon with about 2,000 mg of sodium is pretty much your entire day’s worth of sodium. People who eat a lot of pre-made, packaged foods tend to eat way too much sodium. In fact, 90% of American adults consume more than 2,300 mg per day. The average intake is closer to 3,400 mg of sodium per day!
If you're at high risk for those conditions, then you probably shouldn't have more than just 1,500 mg of sodium each day.
Sodium and high blood pressure
How does salt increase blood pressure? And what does that have to do with it making you thirsty?
Well, there actually is something called "salt-sensitive high blood pressure." Here's how it works:
The salt you eat gets absorbed quickly and goes into the blood.
Your body recognizes that the blood is too salty, so more water is added to the blood to dilute it (i.e. with thirst signals to make you drink more fluid). More water in the blood means more fluid your heart needs to pump and more fluid pushing against the walls of your vessels. It also sends more blood to the kidneys so the sodium can be filtered out into the urine.
This is how too much sodium increases your blood pressure. Increased blood pressure also puts a strain on your kidneys and other sensitive vessels, including critical vessels in your brain and heart.
You can counteract this effect by reducing the amount of salt you eat (from both processed foods and the salt shaker). In fact, limiting salt intake has been shown to slightly reduce blood pressure.
Pro Tip: You can reduce high blood pressure by eating more whole foods, and more mineral-rich plant foods.
If you are healthy and eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, then you probably don’t need to worry about your salt intake. Feel free to add a bit of salt during cooking or at the table for flavour.
If your doctor has told you to reduce your salt or sodium intake, then you can do this by reducing your intake of processed foods, adding less salt to the food you make, and eating more plant-based foods.
Recipe (Low-Sodium Spice Mix): Italian Spice Mix
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 ½ tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried thyme
½ tbsp onion powder
½ tbsp garlic powder
Mix all ingredients and place in a sealed container. Sprinkle where you would normally use salt. This is especially good with Italian-style dishes.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Feel free to play around with the ingredients. If you hate oregano, leave it out. If you love garlic, add more.
The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet.
It has recently gained a lot of popularity in the wellness sphere because of some of its health benefits.
A ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children.
Read on for some of the lowdown on how it reprograms your metabolism (for “ketosis”), and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.
What is “ketosis?”
Carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. They use carbs first, whenever they’re available.
This is why maintaining stable blood sugar can affect your attention, mood, and energy level.
However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat.
Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”
After a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as "ketosis." It's the same process that your body goes through if you've fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That's the trigger for turning fat into ketones.
Pro Tip: “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”
Ketogenic diet for weight loss
With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.
But it’s true!
It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
How is this possible?
Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we're full and satisfied, and we don't need to eat anymore. Many people don't need to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
So, by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall. Of course, this can help with weight loss.
Ketogenic diet for improved health
Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.
As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues.
One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet.
Changing your metabolism has widespread health effects. And this can be beneficial for some people.
How to do the ketogenic diet
Not everyone should go on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it. It can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”
The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs. Many people find it quite restrictive and are unable to stay on it for a long time.
The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).
The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”
And because of the limits on fruit and starchy vegetables, many people on the ketogenic diet need to take supplements. This is because, in addition to their sugar and starch, fruits and starchy veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So, if you're cutting those foods out, you still need to give your body those nutrients. And often, it means needing supplements.
The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. It can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions.
It’s not for everyone, so make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner before you begin.
Recipe (Ketogenic): Layered chocolate peppermint fat bombs
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp granulated sweetener (xylitol or monk fruit)
¼ tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
Mix the melted coconut oil with the sweetener and peppermint extract.
Pour half the mixture into six cubes of an ice cube tray. This is going to be the white bottom layer. Place the tray in the fridge to harden.
Add the cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and mix. This is going to be the top brown layer. Pour it on top of the white layer which has set in the fridge.
Place the ice cube tray into the fridge until completely hardened.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: These are (high fat) super-rich desserts. Don’t eat too many if you’re not going full keto.