Eating without ever feeling full. It happens to many of us. But is it really hunger or just the urge to eat? This is the question that must be asked, according to Dr. Corinne Chicheportiche-Ayache, nutritionist. She points to food as an emotional regulator and gives advice on how to get rid of that permanent craving for snacking.
Sit down on your sofa, get up, go to the kitchen, hesitate in front of the fridge, then grab a packet of cakes from the cupboard, and devour it, because of an irrepressible feeling of hunger… A “cracking” which, in some and some of us, has the unfortunate tendency to become regular. To stop untimely snacking, it is necessary to ask the question: is it hunger or a desire to eat? “Hunger is expressed by an empty stomach, either by gurgling, a feeling of emptiness, weakness, fatigue, recalls Dr. Corinne Chicheportiche-Ayache, nutritionist. By definition, hunger is the signal from a physiological point of view that will trigger food intake, so it is often away from meals. »
An urge to eat linked to stress and anxiety
The desire to eat, on the other hand, will not be guided by the stomach… but by the brain. “Food is an emotional regulator”, emphasizes the specialist. To cope with stress, anxiety, anxiety, we will crave food. And in this situation, it’s more a craving for chocolate or burgers than carrots and apples… “We are going to focus on comfort foods, that is to say sugar and fat”, observes the specialist.
However, fatty and sugary foods are “bad” carbohydrates, fast carbohydrates which do not provide all the necessary nutritional elements, and therefore will not provide a lasting feeling of satiety, “this physiological signal which demonstrates that the energy intake is sufficient in relation to his hunger”, so hungry there is.
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Sport, a good emotional regulator
The urge to eat (and not hunger) affects all ages, but is seen a lot in preteens. It is particularly linked to sleep: the less we sleep, the more we are tired, the more we are sensitive to emotions, the more we will turn to food as an emotional regulator. “For some it’s cigarettes or alcohol, for others it’s food,” compares Corinne Chicheportiche-Ayache.
But negative emotions are not the only ones to play tricks on us: we can also be tempted to eat out of craving during happy moments that we share with friends or family. It’s hard to blame yourself in these cases…
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The solution to not jumping on food? Find an activity to keep your mind busy, “focus on something else”.Corinne Chicheportiche-Ayache advises her patients to leave a pair of sneakers in front of their door, and when “the urge to eat becomes obsessive, to go out for a walk to breathe”. Sport is also an emotional regulator, which can replace food. “But it can also be a piece of music, or anything else that brings out negative thoughts,” emphasizes the nutritionist.
Fatty and sugary foods promote faster return of hunger
Besides this desire to eat, it also happens that some of us constantly feel hunger, the real one, and cannot get rid of this feeling. This may be due to the type of food eaten. The fast carbohydrates mentioned above – sodas, confectionery, cakes, fries, for example – will not provide the nutritional elements necessary for the body and “will leave a feeling of hunger” or let this feeling settle more quickly.
The scientific studies carried out on mice are enlightening: “High-calorie foods, at least in rodents, cause inflammation in areas of the brain that regulate body weight, which increases consumption of these foods. But if the same inflammation occurs in the human brain, it could create a cycle of feeling hungry and choosing tasty, high-calorie foods over and over again,” summarizes the American Ellen A. Schur, professor of medicine and director of the center for research on nutrition and obesity at the University of Washington, in the washington post .
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It is therefore better to turn to foods rich in fiber and protein, foods in which so-called “slow” carbohydrates or sugars contribute to satiety and provide progressive and overall energy. Unsurprisingly, these are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes or even nuts and seeds. “Typically, I often recommend rice, quinoa, lentils, pulses in general, because they provide slow sugars and vegetable proteins”, specifies Corinne Chicheportiche-Ayache.
The fact of eating very quickly can also be responsible for this feeling of hunger which arises, because satiety is then not reached. “It settles down after 25 minutes of meals”, underlines the nutritionist doctor.
In case of weight loss, the brain stimulates the urge to eat
Recent weight loss can also be the cause of cravings. Hormones in the blood signal to the brain that energy stores in the form of fat are running out. Survival instinct: the brain then stimulates the desire to eat…
This is why weight regain is often observed after weight loss. “The accumulating research explains why many scientists believe we should view obesity as a chronic disease, and why treatment recommendations more often include medication as well as lifestyle changes, especially for people with serious health problems related to their weight, continues Ellen A. Schur in the Washington Post.
Finally, those who have the impression of being hungry all the time can also blame their parents in rare cases possibly linked to genetic predispositions. According to the professor of medicine, studies have shown that the brain reacts to food in the same way in twins, who have a similar baseline level of appetite. Finally, the cause can be found on the side of hormonal changes during stages of life such as puberty, pregnancy, or during premenstrual syndrome, which often affect appetite. In any case, when you feel that you are losing control over food, you should not hesitate to consult a professional in the matter.