Hunger Attacks: Causes, How To Fight Them, And What To Eat

Is it possible to fight hunger attacks when they arise? Let’s see the causes and what to eat to avoid gaining weight. They can strike at any time, even after eating a full meal, but are not always related to the need to eat. Sudden hunger attacks are often the body’s means by which it warns us that something is wrong. They come when you least expect it, causing stomach cramps and sending the brain the urge to eat something, which in most cases is not something healthy. Hunger attacks can have different causes, some of a physical nature and others of a psychological nature. 

Regardless of the motivation, letting go of the urge to eat something every time this impulse presents itself can become risky for the figure and the health itself. There is little doubt that ‘damage limitation’ is possible if you eat something healthier than the sweet snacks and junk food that are usually preferred in these circumstances. Even better, however, would be to try to understand the origin of hunger attacks or why they occur and try to solve the problem more consciously. So let’s see the causes, what to eat so as not to gain weight, and how to fight them definitively.

Hunger Attacks: What Are The Causes? 

The stimulus of hunger represents a response to an evident or latent need on the part of the body. Therefore, feeling the need to eat helps fill a lack that can be physical or emotional. Throughout the day, the body needs nutrients to work well. Therefore, whenever these are lacking, it sends a request for replenishment to the brain. Yet, a human can feel hunger pangs in specific periods even when the body does not need nourishment. The causes of this phenomenon may be due to imbalances within the organism or to particular psychological conditions.

Physiological Causes Of Hunger Attacks 

An unbalanced or too restrictive diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, and lack of sleep are among the first factors that determine the appearance of frequent hunger attacks. A diet based on refined carbohydrates, foods high in fat, salty, or sweet, is responsible for increased insulin production. The glycemic peaks that occur with the intake of certain foods generate hunger attacks in response to the body’s need for more sugars. 

This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why it is possible to feel the stomach growling shortly after finishing a meal. Conversely, hunger attacks in an overly restrictive diet represent the body’s need to recover fuel to work well. In this circumstance, one could be more inclined to ingest greedy and high-calorie foods, capable of immediately providing energy, with the risk of triggering a vicious circle of restrictions and binge eating. 

Sleep is also responsible for hunger attacks because it is closely linked to hormones. Sleeping makes you lose weight, and this has been scientifically proven. Adequate sleep keeps cortisol (the stress hormone) and ghrelin, the hormone that regulates the stimulus of hunger, at bay. At the same time, it increases the production of leptin, which has an anorectic function and prevents the onset of hunger after hours.

Psychological Causes Of Hunger Attacks

It is said that the stomach is the second brain, and it is no coincidence that in conditions of severe stress or the grip of emotions, one feels the need to take refuge in food to escape from worries. In most cases, Hunger attacks have psychological causes concerning stress, frustration, boredom, or sadness. It is challenging to control an attack of nervous hunger or give in to it without feeling guilty afterward. 

When the emotional component comes into play, food becomes a means to fill the void you feel inside or vent stress, anger, and frustration. Likewise, it can become a diversion to fight boredom. Since food, hormones, and the stimulus of hunger are closely linked, it is therefore not surprising that in these conditions, there is a tendency to prefer sweets, salty snacks, junk food, and other foods considered to be comfort foods. All these greedy and ‘lustful’ foods are perceived as a reward, a small glimmer of happiness when one tends to see everything as black. 

Once the moment has passed, however, what remains is a strong sense of guilt and, sometimes, shame. Attacks of nervous hunger can become very frequent in challenging periods, first of all putting your figure at risk. It is not uncommon that those who let themselves be overwhelmed by emotions by continually giving in to the temptation to eat to appease their anxieties end up gaining weight, developing a conflictual relationship with food, and incurring more severe health problems.

How To Fight Hunger Pangs?

Knowing how to recognize a hunger attack from the actual stimulus is the first step in solving the problem. Especially when the psychological sphere comes into play, it is not easy to recognize hunger as a physical need from an emotional one. How to fight hunger attacks when the cause is physiological? Turning to nutrition experts is the most effective strategy.

When hunger pangs are felt, and symptoms associated with malnutrition appear (dizziness, exhaustion, difficulty in concentration), it would be advisable to offer the body the foods it needs to regain strength, thus avoiding opting for more fast but unhealthy food. With a food professional’s support, it is possible to identify any nutritional deficiencies and define the most suitable diet for the situation. If, on the other hand, you realize that the problem is psychological and hunger attacks hide emotional needs, it is advisable to identify the underlying issue first of all.

In the case of stress, you need to avoid what causes concern and engage in activities that keep the mind busy. Taking a vacation from work (even a weekend away is fine), dedicating yourself to a sport or recreational activity, seeing friends, or walking in nature are all strategies that allow you to relax and ease tensions. Also, in this case, contacting a psychologist specialized in this type of disorder could solve the problem. Drinking water is another remedy that allows you to silence unwarranted grumbling. When you realize that a nervous hunger attack is underway, it can be helpful to drink a nice glass of fresh water and take a walk to amuse yourself with food.

What To Eat So As Not To Gain Weight During Hunger Attacks?

Especially if of a nervous nature, hunger attacks lead to the need to munch on something (often, unfortunately, compulsively) to release tension. This is how you swallow whole packets of chips, cookies, pretzels, and snacks that offer immediate satisfaction but are challenging to stop. Giving in to temptation and indulging in fatty and caloric foods more often, however, inevitably leads to gaining weight. When hunger attacks that are difficult to manage arise, what to eat to avoid gaining weight? 

Fruit and vegetables are always the solutions, but even dried fruit and seeds can quench hunger without compromising the figure. To fool the brain and stimulate the crunching action, which helps to ease tension, you can opt for a dip of raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and fennel, or sliced ​​fruit (such as apple and crunchy pear), grapes, cherries or berries. Dried fruit, although higher in calories than fresh fruit and vegetables, ultimately turns out to be a much healthier snack to break hunger. Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, it provides vitamins, mineral salts, and fibers, offering a prolonged feeling of satiety that allows you to get to the next meal without further hunger attacks.

Also Read: Are Eggs Good Or Bad? Benefits And Contraindications


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