We all experience hunger, but we tend to give in to it too quickly. We eat the wrong types of foods (quick carbs), or we eat too quickly allowing too much food into our gastrointestinal tract.

When we haven’t eaten for a while our insulin, which tends to be high in most of us carrying extra weight, allows a shifting of glucose into the cells. That creates a sensation of hunger, along with secretion of another hormone from the stomach—ghrelin. Following that slight drop in blood sugar there is an outpouring of counter regulatory hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, glucagon, and growth hormone) that will stimulate the release of stored sugars from the liver.

Depending on how quickly or slowly these counter regulatory hormones respond, that sensation of hunger will tend to disappear within one hour.

If only you and I could hold off eating for just one hour, the hunger sensation will be gone. Have a glass of water, tea or coffee. Give it time, it will go away.

Unfortunately, we have all been conditioned to eat in response to even the mildest hunger sensations. I hear the words ‘hunger’, ‘famished’, ‘starving’, all day from patients. None of us are starving or famished.

We eat in response to emotions too; that constant chatter in our head which is thinking about our stress, or feelings of anxiety, fatigue, or depression. The more we understand why we are reaching for food, the more we can train ourselves not to do so to soothe mild empty stomach sensations or emotions.

Distractions help; if tense, do something. Go for a walk; read a book, get away from the TV. Make a cup of tea or have a glass of water. You will find, in about one hour, no matter the trigger for eating, that the hunger has passed.

No matter how much or how often we feed ourselves, the act of eating never resolves anything our brain is thinking or feeling. Meditation might. Deep breathing might. Journaling might. Exercise of any sort might. Food never resolves anything. In fact it leads to guilt, and worse, it worsens our health.

WAIT ONE HOUR! Hunger feelings will pass.

You can do it. Never stop trying.

Dr. B