Hormones Inducing excess Hunger and Snacking.

Our mind plays a very important role in our overall health routine but, is maintaining a healthy diet only about a strong mind? Certainly not. Our hormones play a huge role in regulating our hunger.

Hunger hormones:
Our body has two hunger hormones namely Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that reduces hunger, while ghrelin induces hunger. Leptin tells you that you’re full while ghrelin tells you when you are hungry. Sleep is one of the major factors that play an important part in regulating the adequate release of both these hormones as per the needs of the body. Let’s assume your hunger hormones are working fine and doing their job. Then why can’t some people control snacking? (often 4-5 pm and late nights) Is it that these hormones control snacking too?

Today we are going to take another test but in this one, you don’t have to do anything! Just ask yourself some questions.

1.Do you often feel like snacking or eating something just an hour or two after a meal?

2. When you feel like snacking, what do you crave to eat? If I give you a few pieces of coconut or nuts will it be good for you? Or you cannot do without a piece of chocolate, juice, crisps, etc.

3. When you snack, do you prefer a sweet or a salty item to eat?

4. When you have a snack after a meal, does it bring you joy and satisfaction? The kind of satisfaction you had after your main meal on a hungry stomach, for example after lunch or dinner?

Just asking yourself some of the above questions, can tell you something about yourself and your choices. It can tell you ‘why’ you snack. You may need to know if you snack a lot because you didn’t have a balanced meal, or because you are bored or stressed. Your food choices can tell you what your body craves and then you can work on the ‘why’.

Have you noticed that snacking is a habit? Do you feel like having a snack ‘exactly’ at the same time each day? For some, it’s 4-5 pm and for some others, its late at night. Surely, you are not hungry 1-2 hours after a good dinner or lunch. Then why do you feel hungry?

Well, these are normally not ‘hunger pangs’ but ‘sugar cravings’. It’s like any other addiction only perhaps more dangerous. Just look at the snacks we choose to eat at such times of the day. Sugary, starchy, or fried foods e.g. chocolates, crisps, juices, ice cream, fruits, cake, biscuits, etc. Do you agree? Do we ‘naturally’ gravitate towards choosing a snack such as an egg, veggies with dips, nuts, some pieces of chicken, sprouts, or dahi at such a time? Not until you are on a strict diet and your dietitian is monitoring you!

Snacking is an addiction. It’s a habit. It can definitely be reduced by making changes to your daily diet but, it also needs behavioral changes which can be achieved by adding various exercises that can change these behavioral patterns.

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