Are You Sure You’re Hungry?

I have worked with many very overweight people and one thing that they all tell me is that they are very rarely, if ever, hungry.

Nevertheless, they continue to eat.  

It often makes me wonder what triggers other than hunger cause me to eat.

So, I thought I would try a little experiment and work out if I was really hungry before I reached for something to eat.  

Monday dawned, it’s a busy day, so I’d better eat as much as I can in case it’s a long time until I can eat again. How about a packed lunch?!

I am pretty tired by 4pm and there’s still a few more sessions to go – how about a chocolate bar as a quick ‘pick me up’? 

Eventually I get home and feel chuffed that I got through everything on time and reward myself with a large and not too healthy supper, rounded off with a bowl of ice cream – after all, I deserve it after a day like I have had.

Tuesday I wake up and decide to ‘be good’.  I enjoy a fabulously healthy breakfast – so far so good.  Then I find that I have forgotten to prep for an important meeting – big stress, takes me a whole bag of crisps to work out a plan and still make it to the meeting.  

I grab a special latte on the way as I so need it and really deserve it after so much stress.

I get home a bit late and have a row with my husband as he forgot to put the washing out this morning and I needed my work clothes dry and ready for tomorrow. A glass of wine should soothe my nerves while I get dinner ready. 

Can you see a pattern emerging?  OK – so perhaps you don’t eat for the exact same reasons as me, but can you honestly say you only eat when you are genuinely hungry? And are you sure you know what hunger really feels like?  

Hunger is triggered by the hormone ghrelin and feeling full by another hormone called leptin.  These hormones are present in us all but for some of us our response to them has been altered and their effect isn’t as clear as it should be.  If we add into the mix yet another hormone, cortisol, released at times of stress that leads to food cravings we can see why eating is so much more than a response to physical hunger.  

One of the best ways to get back on track is to ‘eat mindfully’ and before you sigh and raise your eyebrows, what I mean is to pause and really think about what you are eating.  Just take a breath and consider if your body really needs what you are about to put in it.  Is there a healthier alternative?  

Oh, and one more little tip – try a food diary and show it to someone.  There is nothing quite as sobering as writing down ‘ two kit kat bars, a bag of crisps and a few large spoonfuls of peanut butter’ to make you think twice! 


This blog was written by Marion Foreman

Marion is a nurse with many years’ experience and a personal trainer. Her two specialist areas are training older people and training people on their cancer journey. Marion sometimes works with very elderly people in care homes, helping them to remain mobile and independent.

Marion and her husband own two gyms and are passionate about helping people to be their best. Marion is always keen to make sure that their members are given up to date and relevant advice about living a healthy lifestyle.