This is a question I’ve been asked several times recently and in the context of being more than just a bit peckish. Whilst we’re all different, if this sounds like you, you might want to explore the following possibilities. (And if ever you’re concerned, please do see your GP).
- My starting point (assuming that you are indeed eating regular meals) is whether you’re eating enough quality food (particularly if you’re breastfeeding) and whether you have enough protein in your diet. As you may remember, protein helps to keep us fuller for longer (as well as doing lots of other amazing things in the body), so try boosting your intake of eggs, fish, poultry, lean red meat and plain greek yogurt, tempeh, cultured cottage cheese and lentils and beans for plant based eaters. And ensure that the calories you’re consuming are nutritious ones that will fuel you well, rather than empty calories.
- Leading on from this, it may be because you have too many simple/refined carbs (i.e. sugar) in your diet – think junk/processed food and white flour based products like white bread, white rice and white pasta. This is because these foods typically spike your blood sugar levels, which then drop quickly, leaving you looking for more. These foods also typically lack in fibre and so are digested quickly – so too little fibre in your diet could also be playing a role.
- Are you drinking enough water? It’s common for people to mix the signals of thirst for hunger and drinking water between meals can help to reduce appetite. Whilst on the subject of drinks, beware of the appetite stimulating effects of alcohol and relying only on liquid foods like smoothies and meal replacements as they pass through your system more quickly than the whole foods would leaving you less full and satisfied (and more likely to overeat).
- Linked to this, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly and eating mindfully, without distraction, helps your body to register what you’ve consumed, to notice how full (or not) you are and to relay the appropriate signals back.
- Your lifestyle might also be playing a role here. Significant stress and / or sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your digestive system and typically leave you feeling more hungry and less able to notice when you’re full.
- And hunger can obviously be impacted by certain medications and medical conditions, which include rogue thyroids (not uncommon in pregnancy or the early postnatal period). In these circumstances always consult with your GP.