Are you hungry all the time it seems like?
Do cravings feel impossible to resist?
Do you find yourself unable to stop thinking about food all the time?
And after your cravings and food thoughts get the best of you, you’re back to being hungry and thinking about food again?
If so, this article is going to help you understand both the mindsets and nutritional aspects so that you can stop:
- Being so hungry
- Thinking about food all the time
- Getting hungry again.
It’s important that we talk about mindsets first because nutrition alone won’t cure your hunger problems.
I’m sure you know some ideas like ‘eat more protein’ or how meal prepping is important, but at Eating Enlightenment we preach that mindset comes before action taking.
That way when you are ready to take action, you have a set of underlying principles to fall back on.
Lacking these underlying structural mindsets and principles, whatever action you take will somehow miss the mark.
For example, maybe you try eating a lot of protein for a few days and your hunger goes away.
Hip hip hurray!!!
But then a few days later, some life stressor will occur, and you’ll be back to your bad habits of feeling hungry again.
However, with an understanding of these principles, you can adapt and modify your actions so that when life gives you lemons, you can squeeze those lemons and make lemonade!
In this way, you’ll be able to sustainably build upon successful changes you make to your eating habits and continue onward on your health and wellness journey, using mindsets first!
Are you ready?
Why Am I So Hungry No Matter How Much I Eat?
Answer: Your 3 Basic Needs For Food Are Not Being Met Adequately
This graphic above was from Abram Maslow, on his famous chart about the Hierarchy of Needs.
This diagram has been around since the 1960’s and is still useful today. I use it all the time with clients so that we can really dig deep and get on the same page together.
At the very bottom layer you have your basic needs, “Physiological Needs” and “Emotional Needs”.
(Physiological is just a fancy word for “body”)
Now for our intents and purposes there are only 3 things you need to focus on:
2 physiological needs, and 1 emotional need.
(You do have other basic needs like sleep, warmth, shelter, etc, but these needs are outside the scope of our discussion about how to stop feeling so hungry all the time. We only need to focus on these 3)
If you want to stop feeling so hungry all the time, you have to adequately meet your 2 physiological food needs :
- Get Enough Food
- Get Enough Variety
(Macronutrients, Balance, these are all other words that could be synonymous with variety)
You also have to meet your emotional need for:
Basically you need to eat enough food on a truly regular basis, and feel safe/satisfied after you eat.
So the lack of these 3 things – lacking enough food, lacking enough food balance, and lacking enough safety – are the 3 main reasons you are feeling hungry all the time.
And I know this might be overwhelming to read at first.
So let’s slow down. Let’s cover these topics from a high level perspective before we start getting specific.
First let’s just agree on something – that eating enough food and feeling safe is a fundamental human need, right?
Your body needs food and safety in order to grow!
Odds are high, very high, that if you are struggling with feeling hungry all the time that either:
- You aren’t getting enough food in, or
- Aren’t getting a variety of foods
- You aren’t feeling safe around food.
Don’t we need these 3 things as human beings? Food, variety, and safety?
Like food for sure, obviously we need food.
And we also need variety. Because eating protein bars all day just ain’t gonna cut it!
(Author’s Note: Humans are wired for diversity and variety. Species that evolved to rely on only one type of food would go extinct when that food source dried up. So humans are wired to want a variety of foods. And I’ll more about what variety means from a health perspective but for now let’s just get clear on your basic needs.)
And we need to feel safe.
That is why in the list above I put satisfied in italics, because this is our benchmark, ok?
If you have gotten enough food, enough variety/balance, and you feel safe during your eating experiences – you want to be feeling so much hunger all the time!
This satisfaction stuff is really important!
So many times people forget to mention feeling safe and satisfied in your body…
Like when has a doctor ever talked to you about feeling safe or satisfied in your body?
Talk to your doctor if you have an injury, surely, but for weight loss or matters of hunger, honestly, it’s not the best idea.
Doctors often will scare you first by saying you have high fat or low blood sugar. Then the doctor will give you some generic weight loss tips like ‘eat more protein’ or ‘exercise more”’.
But these two things – food and food satisfaction – are basic body & emotional needs – standard medical advice never talks about these things!!!
Medical advice just glosses over the basic building blocks of your body and soul.
Everybody, every human on the planet, has these needs for safety, variety, and enough food.
So don’t discount satisfaction, because it’s a hallmark sign that you are getting your needs met at a sufficient level.
So that now that we’ve discussed these principles from a higher perspective, let’s start getting more specific:
How Can I Stop Feeling Hungry All The Time?
Here’s the basics of getting enough food for your body.
- Eat 3 hearty meals a day and 1-2 snack
- Have protein, fiber and fat
- Make you feel satisfied (Technically this is an emotional need, we’ll talk about this point later too)
The food satisfaction feeling should last ideally around 2-3 hours.
Remember how earlier I said satisfaction was our benchmark?
Well, now I’m getting specific!
I want you to know what food satisfaction is, and what food satisfaction looks like.
So that you settle for nothing less when you experiment with your eating habits!
Let’s define more precisely what I’m talking about here with ‘food satisfaction’.
- Your appetite during this period will be gone or greatly diminished for a few hours
- And then a few hours later your appetite will come back once you’re hungry.
This means your belly ideally is feeling satisfied for at least 2 hours after you eat.
So if you are asking ‘why am I so hungry all the time?’
Now we have a guideline: are your meals making you feel satisfied to the point where your appetite and hunger are gone for a few hours?
You’re not thinking about food or wanting food for a few hours?
But, if after reading this article you experiment with some food choices, and you eat a meal, and you still are hungry …
The hard truth here …
Is that your basic needs are still not being met on some fundamental level.
You may ‘think’ you ate 3 hearty meals a day, but if you don’t feel satisfied after you eat then you’re either:
Ok, ok, ok, I’ve drilled in the food satisfaction point here. I get it.
Just lookin’ out for ya! Making sure you get these ideas deep into your subconscious brain …
But ok, so let’s say you ate, but you are still feeling hungry.
And let’s also say for sake of discussion that you were feeling safe as you ate.
You didn’t feel guilty afterwards, you weren’t afraid of your self-condemnation for eating a cookie.
(Authors Note: Those are other issues, by the way, that relate to feeling safe. Oftentimes people can feel that they literally are a bad, worthless person for too many cookies! But hey, since when did eating too many cookies kill anybody?!?!? If you are beating yourself up because of your food choices, it’s very likely that you are not feeling safe around food. Either you don’t trust yourself around food, or because you fear your inner critic is going to beat the shit out of you.)
So, if you are still feeling hungry even after eating safely, there’s two physiological body needs you need to watch out for:
- Not eating enough
- You’re not getting enough balance
Now let’s talk about balance, variety, or macronutrients:
I think we all get that if you don’t eat enough, you’re going to be hungry.
But, what if you eat enough, even too much, but you still are feeling hungry? What then?
For example, have you ever just eaten an entire pizza because you were so hungry?
But then like 1 hour after you finished the pizza or pasta …
Even though you were incredibly, painfully bloated … You still felt hungry again?
You wonder with your belly still freshly painfully bloated … ‘Why I am always hungry?!?’
It’s because there’s a difference between feeling full versus feeling satisfied.
You can feel full, like when you eat a ton of pizza …
Because yes, you ate enough calories…
But you didn’t get enough balance in your meals, enough variety.
Satisfaction is more than just emotional safety, it’s also about meeting your body’s needs for food.
Remember earlier how I said we humans were wired for variety?
You can’t fool your stomach. Your stomach needs variety.
Your blood sugar levels won’t lie. If you have deficiency, your blood sugar levels, your hunger and your stomach will be in a hissy fit.
Your lack of variety, even though you are full, will cause you to keep thinking about food!
(In this pasta/pizza situation you didn’t get enough fat or protein)
Ok, so what does variety look like?
Well… here’s a rough approximation down below.
You need to get your variety of your macronutrients (proteins, fibers, and fats) in each of your meals:
Variety + Enough Food + Safety = Satisfaction = Not Being Hungry All The Time
Now let’s circle back to not eating enough food.
Because on paper, you might be eating 3 meals per day and 1-2 snacks …
But you could very well not be eating enough, and still be having hunger pangs.
And I see this reason all the time with private clients, a lack of food leading to hunger pangs.
We chat and they tell me they are pretty normal weight, eat healthy, feel ok …
But they can’t help but feel hungry and want to eat all the time.
And their hunger makes them think and obsess about food all the time too!!!!
Plus, their desire to eat can take up tons of mental headspace. Super annoying, I get it.
Hours upon hours of their day is spent either dealing with appetite or thoughts about food.
And the thing is … many of these people are actually ‘too healthy’.
They are afraid of eating too much, and so they aren’t eating enough.
For example, let’s say you ‘eat healthy’ and have chicken breast, steamed broccoli and brown rice all day long.
You’ve eaten healthy right? Hell, you’ve even had variety too!
Right? Chicken = protein/fat, broccoli = fiber, rice = carb
Your personal trainer or dietitian would be so proud of you!
But … you still feel hungry all the time, so something is wrong.
In this situation it’s very likely that your servings are too small. You aren’t eating enough.
You might be having just a few fingers of rice, a few dashes of broccoli and one boring plain chicken breast.
But this isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger.
Yes – you are meeting your variety, balance and macronutrient requirement. Great job!
But you aren’t eating enough!!!!! And even though you are eating ‘healthy’ it’s unlikely that you are feeling satisfied.
This phenomenon where you are eating healthy, but not eating enough is very common in people who have orthorexia, or similar symptoms to orthorexia:
People with orthorexia eat very healthy. Too Healthy.
Now I’m not saying you have orthorexia.
But, if you are asking ‘why am I so hungry all of the time’….
It could be highly likely that you have orthorexia tendencies.
But they are too picky and sensitive and wayyyyy too concerned about weight gain.
Their thoughts might be entirely dominated by ideas on how to lose weight.
People with orthorexia walk around and may look super healthy. But internally people with orthorexia:
- are always hungry
- have low blood sugar
- constantly battle increased appetite
- constant fear of weight gain
- often times have hormonal issues like an overactive thyroid
In the broccoli / chicken / rice example, the person with orthorexia, or orthorexia related symptoms might be very confused.
They know they are eating ‘healthy’ but they are so hungry all the time. What gives?
In these scenarios, you are only meeting 1 or your 2 physiological needs for food.
Remember – you need both for your appetite: enough food and variety.
In this case, the person is getting variety, but probably they are too concerned about weight gain and are undereating.
This can easily lead to feeling hunger all the time, so be sure that you eat enough food!
That’s the first mindset.
Basically eat more food, and eat variety.
If you’re struggling to get more vegetables in your diet, here are 10 clever ways to get more vegetables.
Remember, your benchmark is where your stomach is feeling satisfied.
When your stomach is truly satisfied your hunger will decrease.
Your blood sugar levels, your pulse, any overactive thyroid or medical condition, your mind … all these things will normalize.
Because your basic food needs are being met!
Now eating more, and eating more variety is easier said than done …
You may be constantly thinking to yourself ‘why am I always hungry?!?!’ …
And you may sincerely want to eat more …
But when you start to change your behavior, you might run into unforeseen obstacles that get in your way of satisfying your appetite…
Now very often times people are blocked in regards to ‘fat’.
What Should I Do If I Feel Hungry All The Time?
Answer: Change The Way You Think About Fat & Eat More Of It!
I want to wrap up this blog post with a specific call to action.
Eat more fat.
If you want to stop thinking about food all the time, embrace eating more fat.
Now, many people think that fat is bad.
But your body needs fat.
Fat is the secret ingredient to make it so that you are not hungry all the time.
For me personally, I’ll have fat at every meal and snack:
- Breakfast – oatmeal with a handful of nuts
- Lunch – eggs or avocado on top of bread or rice
- Dinner – Yogurt, veggies cooked in olive oil, and a sweet potato
Now you might be thinking …
Well, Jared, you’re an active, young guy. You have a high metabolism.
But if I eat fats then I’ll get fat.
Right? Isn’t that what you are thinking in the back of your head?
If you are afraid of fat, and this fear is getting in the way of your belly feeling satisfied …
Please realize there are two types of fats.
- Good fats
- “Bad” fats
Author’s Note: I put “bad” in italics because like I mentioned earlier, food isn’t ‘bad’!. Criminals are bad because they have malicious intensions to harm. Food is not conscious! Hard to give something a moral judgment when it’s not even alive! Plus, labeling food as bad can make you feel unsafe too. So, ya, just my 2 cents.
In the diagram above you can see some ideas for good types of fats.
And yes, there are ‘good’ fats. Seriously!
Fats get a bad rap.
But if you are missing out on fats, you will be always hungry, there’s no way around it!
But on the other hand …
If you can eat enough, eat some fats along with your proteins and carbs, and feel safe/satisfied …
Then your hunger will go away and only come back when you are supposed to eat!
Now, if you still have resistance to eating fat …
Just know that our lovely mainstream media culture only ever talks about the bad types of fats which are found in fast food, greasy fries, and processed meats.
Media likes to make fat out of the enemy.
So it’s pretty normal and natural for you to have resistance to eating fat, even subconscious resistance that impacts your food making decisions.
For example, does the idea of eating fat 3-4x per day creep you out a little bit?
Just please realize – incorporating fat into your meals and snacks is critical to feeling satisfied and full (and not feeling always hungry!).
And yes, fats are a part of being balanced and having variety. So that means, per our guidelines above on how to not feel so hungry all the time, that you gotta get fats in during your meals every day!
Hopefully my example above is helpful.
If you aren’t sure how to get started, my advice is to start with nuts.
Pretty much everyone knows that nuts are the ‘good’ types of fat.
There are also good types of fats which you can find in:
- Lean meats
The reason you want to incorporate more fats into your diet is because these fats digest more slowly.
This means that you will feel satisfied for hours after you eat!
Why is this? Calories from fat burn off much more slowly and keep you full for much longer.
That’s why you could be thinking about food and feeling hungry, just 1 hour after eating an entire bowl of pasta.
The pasta bowl didn’t have any real, substantial fat source in it!
However, if you had taken a normal sized bowl of pasta, and added a good amount of cheese, maybe some olive oil …
You would have added fat to your pasta bowl, and you would have felt much better after you had finished the bowl.
If you went the extra mile and added some chicken to the meal for protein that would have been even better too!!!
And then … instead of eating a huge bowl of pasta and still feeling hunger afterwards …
Your meal with fat and pasta would have made you hunger decrease and you would feel satisfied for hours upon hours …
And during this time you would NOT BE THINKING ABOUT HUNGER.
And that’s what we are focusing here on this blog post.
How to not feel so hungry all the time, and to understand the reasons why you do feel hungry all the time.
So far we’ve really dug into meeting your basic needs for food:
- Eat enough
- Eat fats, proteins, and fibers each meal
We’ve also talked about obstacles to getting your physiological needs met:
- Orthorexia tendencies
- Fear of fat
If you can get over your fears of food, and really commit to eating regularly then you stop feeling hunger all the time.
I know I didn’t totally cover safety in this article, but I will in a future one.
Let me know in the comments your thoughts, or if you are really needing help with this area just reach out to me using the complimentary breakthrough offer on my website!