Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cancer

Can I drink alcohol on my diet?

Chitosan - A Pill that Absorbs Fat?

Cholesterol - Eat more fat to lower?

Coffee! Should You or Shouldn't You?


Ephedra - Warning

EZ Zucchini

Fat Snack

Fats - Mono, Poly, Saturated

Food Poisoning

Food Labels that Fool You

Genetics and Obesity


Hunger - What is it?

I Ate too Much!

Olestra - The fat that's not a fat?



Salt - Something Nice

Sports Nutrition

Sun - Good Nutrition

Vegetable Soup Homemade

Vegetarian Eating

Vegetarians are Healthier?

Winners and Losers on Your Plate

  Hunger! What is it?

If you've been trying to shed some pounds, you know the biggest obstacle to overcome is that nagging hungry feeling! Have you ever said, "If only I didn't get so hungry, I could stick to my diet!"

Hunger is a basic physiological function necessary to preserve the species - one of many normal, natural, instinctive survival mechanisms shared by all animals. Hunger enables us to thrive. If we didn't get hungry, we wouldn't want to eat. When the body doesn't get enough food, a complex biochemical system stimulates the brain to send out hunger signals and the body says "feed me." Mother Nature has ensured hunger to be an uncomfortable feeling that causes us to seek food to make the discomfort go away.

Theory of the Dysregulated System: If it's normal to be hungry, then is it abnormal not to be hungry? We know that people who are severely ill don't get hungry - the sight or smell of food makes a sick person queasy. People with serious emotional or psychological illnesses also don't get hungry and may lose weight from not eating. But the body can't thrive without food. And so, the Theory of the Dysregulated System says it's not normal not to be hungry.

If it's normal to be hungry, then hunger must be a good thing! Right? But, when you can't control your hunger and it causes excessive eating which leads to extra body fat, it's difficult to convince anyone that hunger is desirable.

Take a look around you. You'll see that
all species of animals spend a lot of time
doing what they like best -- eating. Eating is a
pleasurable experience common
to all animals.


Long ago, hunger was thought to be a simple mechanism - when the stomach contained no food, or was empty, it caused hunger, and if the stomach were full, hunger would go away. To test this theory, researchers dropped an inflatable balloon into a hungry subject's stomach and pumped it full of air until it completely filled the stomach. The subject reported that it helped briefly to cause a feeling of fullness, but feelings of hunger soon returned even though the balloon remained fully inflated. Researchers began to realize that hunger is not a simple process.

We now know of many mechanisms in the body that stimulate hunger, and we're learning of new ones that we suspect also contribute, although these are not well understood. We know that blood sugar levels have a direct effect on hunger. Sugar, or glucose which comes from carbohydrates, is the main source of energy for the body and brain. When blood sugars drop, a complex biochemical system tells the brain that the body isn't getting enough food and the brain sends out hunger signals. We also know that during hunger, smell is heightened. Just the smell of food can cause your stomach to growl, and the sight or thought of food can cause your mouth to water.

There's another kind of hunger called psychological hunger for which no physiological condition can be found. This kind of hunger may be mostly imagined and you may think you're hungry when you really are not. Food cravings fall into this category, something we all feel from time to time. However, research has not been able to prove a physiological reason for craving certain foods and has disproved the theory that the body craves a food because it needs it.

Studies have been conducted with people who claim to crave certain foods. Here are some of the results:

  • Subjects who said they craved carbohydrates were allowed to choose from a variety of foods and eat as much as they wanted. However, they selected a predominance of high protein, high fat foods that contained no carbohydrate at all.
  • Blood taken from subjects who claim to crave sugar or salt shows their blood levels of sodium and glucose are normal.
  • In a study done with women who were iron deficient, foods with a high iron content were offered but were not chosen.

Similar results occurred in studies with rats. When offering foods fortified with vitamins and minerals to vitamin/mineral deficient rats, the rats did not eat the fortified foods, and instead opted for the high fat, highly sugared foods that contained little or no nutrients.

Advertisers who study human behavior know that people will buy products they feel they can relate to or "connect with." Certain fad diet books, like The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet (Click Here to read more) promotes the theory of food cravings and claims to have a cure. Many people will buy these books because they feel the connection associated with craving certain foods.

Are food cravings real? No one knows, but do you really think your body needs a chocolate candy bar? The next time you're feeling ! frantic ! from a sugar craving, eat fruit instead of candy. Like candy, fruit also provides sugar to the blood, so if your body really is craving sugar, the fruit should satisfy the need.

10 tips to cope with that nagging hungry feeling!

1. Get used to feeling a little bit hungry! Body fat is not mobilized and used as an energy source until the body's main source of energy, glucose, is no longer available. When you're hungry, that means you're burning fat.

2. Avoid high protein, high fat FAD diets! You can't lose fat by eating fat!

3. Eat five to six small meals a day when dieting. Never try to diet by eating one or two meals per day. Several small meals provide the body with a constant source of sugar to help promote normal blood sugar levels which prevents the brain from sending out hunger signals.

4. Eat slowly. Take at least ½ hour to eat a meal. Give your stomach a chance to feel full.

5. Decrease the amount of fat in your diet and replace it with lower calorie complex carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, and grains).

6. Increase intake of dietary fiber. Weight-wise, fiber is heavy and weighs down on stomach receptors to create a feeling of fullness.

7. Many people mistake thirst for hunger. When you think you're hungry, drink a large glass of diet soda or water and see if the hunger goes away.

8. Eat your largest meals during the early part of the day to provide energy when you need it most. Never eat a large meal before going to bed!

9. Go to bed a little bit hungry and sleep on it! It's better to be hungry while you're sleeping than during the day when you're most apt to feed the hunger.

10. Exercise decreases hunger. You don't have to overdue it. Jogging or bicycling one mile four or five times a week can help eliminate those nagging hungry feelings.

Where do you get your nutrition information? Most states now have licensure laws for Dietitians and Nutritionists. Be sure your nutrition advisor is "Licensed" by the State as a Licensed Dietitian (LD) or Licensed Nutritionist (LN), or in states that don't have licensure laws, a Registered Dietitian.




CarboH, Inc.
Barbara Herondorf, L.D.

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