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Are You Really Hungry? How to Tell if Your Cravings Are Real or Just a Trick

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Even without feeling hungry, we often enjoy eating. This can lead to weight gain and a decline in health. It’s important to consider whether you’re eating because you’re hungry. Distinguishing between real hunger and false hunger can be beneficial for your health. We’ve explored ways to identify false hunger and how to overcome it.

Causes of False Hunger

Emotional lows or accumulated stress can decrease serotonin, the happiness hormone. Your body then sends signals to your brain to consume sugar to increase serotonin production. Sugar quickly raises serotonin levels in our bodies. Moreover, the stress hormone cortisol activation disrupts the balance between hormones that suppress and increase appetite, triggering false hunger.

Symptoms of False Hunger

False hunger can manifest as sudden hunger pangs even when you’ve eaten less than three hours ago, or it can worsen when stressed. You may also find yourself craving specific foods like chocolate or spicy Tteokbokki, and you may still feel empty even after eating. If you often experience these symptoms, you likely fall for false hunger!

Distinguishing Real Hunger from False Hunger

So, what differentiates real hunger from false hunger? When you’re starving, your hunger gradually increases, your desire to eat, and your energy levels drop. You may hear your stomach rumbling or feel famished, and eating food brings you happiness and satisfaction.

Thirst Mistaken for Hunger

If you’re chronically dehydrated, you may mistake thirst for hunger, leading to food consumption whenever water is needed. After exercise, you may experience intense thirst due to dehydration. However, if your body is slightly dehydrated within normal ranges, it may have already adapted and won’t signal that you’re thirsty. Instead, your brain may mistake the lack of something for hunger, triggering false hunger.

Resisting False Hunger

If you feel false hunger, it’s best to resist it. The foods we often eat when we’re falsely hungry tend to be greasy and stimulating, and there’s a high risk of overeating or binge eating. Moreover, if you eat right after feeling false hunger before the food from your last meal has been digested, undigested fat can accumulate in your body. This habit can lead to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other metabolic diseases.

Methods to Resist False Hunger

False hunger typically lasts only 15 to 30 minutes. If it’s hard to resist, try drinking a cup of water instead of eating. If water doesn’t help, eating foods with less sugar, like nuts or tomatoes, can be beneficial. You can also distract yourself by listening to music or focusing on other activities. Eating slowly and sufficiently during meal times also helps recognize true satiety.

Enjoying the Experience of False Hunger

It’s crucial not to seek food when you feel hungry immediately. An hour of hunger can be seen as a time when fat is burned, so it’s important to check the hunger level. Often, if you’ve genuinely been hungry but missed the mealtime, the hunger disappears. Waiting about 30 minutes to an hour before eating can also be beneficial.

Stress-Induced False Hunger

Hunger is a complex response involving multiple hormones that make us feel hungry and regulate appetite in the brain’s hypothalamus. Nearby centers that induce feelings of fullness help control these signals, dictating whether to eat. In addition to these physiological functions, if you feel depressed or stressed, excessive cortisol secretion can disrupt the balance of appetite-related hormones, causing you to feel false hunger.

Why Real Hunger is Good for Your Health

Physiological real hunger brings positive changes to our bodies. First, it helps break down body fat. Sugar is stored as an immediate energy source, and when blood sugar levels drop due to hunger, our bodies break down fat for energy. Fasting can help reset the balance of hormones and various biological rhythms and increase energy metabolism efficiency.

Maintaining a 12-hour Fast from Evening to Morning

The ideal meal schedule involves having breakfast within an hour of waking up and dinner 3 to 4 hours before bed. Lunch and an afternoon snack should be eaten at 4-hour intervals in between. If you have dinner between 7 and 8 p.m., don’t eat anything else before bed, and then have breakfast between 7 and 8 a.m. the next day, maintaining a good sleep can help keep your body balanced and healthy.

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