What Things Make You Hungry?

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Many stimuli can cause you to feel hungry.
Many stimuli can cause you to feel hungry. (Image: NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Food is about more than nutrition. Whenever you think about food, you unconsciously associate it with all sorts of sights, smells, feelings social interactions and experiences. There are many things that cause people to feel “mental” hunger even though they may have just eaten a full meal. In order to maintain a healthy diet, it is important to be aware of the stimuli that can cause your stomach to growl even when every principle of nutrition says it shouldn’t.

Smell

Who can smell freshly baked cookies and resist having one? A human's sense of smell is strongly linked to her ability to taste. That is why a delicious smelling steak, burger or dessert can make you feel the need to chow down. The pleasant smell activates your salivary glands, preparing you to digest food.

Availability

Nutritionists and psychologists have completed dozens of studies and all reached the same conclusion: When more food is available, more food is consumed. Just having food around and available to you will make you feel more hungry than you actually are. The solution? Don't keep very many snack foods around your house.

Sugar

Sugar has an addictive quality that causes you to eat more than you normally would. Your body may be sending you a signal to stop eating, but it is also getting a very pleasant sugar high. What's more, most sugary foods are low in nutritional value, causing you to feel genuinely hungry again soon after eating.

Salt

Have you ever eaten just one potato chip? Probably not. Salt stimulates your taste buds and salivary glands, leading you to eat more than you probably need to. Also, foods that are high in salt may not have good nutritional value, causing you to quickly become hungry again.

Drinking

Drinking alcohol causes your liver to work very hard and throws your blood sugar levels out of whack. Until your body reestablishes homeostasis, fluctuating digestion hormones can cause you to feel extremely hungry.

Social Situations

If you are out with a group of friends and they order a basket of fries, chances are that you will partake of the salty treat with them. When it comes to dining, people tend to mimic those around them. This means that if you have friends that frequently eat large, heavy meals, you probably will too.

Feelings

People sometimes eat as a coping mechanism for difficult feelings. If you are feeling sad or depressed, you will probably feel hungrier. This is partly because consuming food is a quick way to make you feel better. There is also a biochemical element. When the hormones regulating your mood are off kilter, chances are that your digestive hormones will also fall off balance.

Sight

Just seeing nicely prepared food can make you feel hungry. All you have to do is watch a few food commercials and you will be ready to eat anything you can get your hands on. This is because your sense of sight, smell and taste are all connected in the brain.

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