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Gaining weight is perfectly natural. It’s nothing that anyone should ever be ashamed of. But there comes a point where weight can lead to unhealthy side effects: diabetes, high blood pressure, lethargy, and more. The list goes on. One of the easiest ways to gain weight is through unnecessary snacking. We’ve all been there. By all accounts, there’s no reason why we should be hungry. We’ve just eaten a satisfying meal, have been sitting around, and overall haven’t had the sort of calorie expenditure that should make the body yell “I’m hungry.” But for some reason we get hungry. And we snack. Below are 3 reasons why we snack unnecessarily and how to address them for a happy healthy weight.

Too Many Carbs, Not Enough Other Things

Don’t get me wrong; carbs are good. They’re an easy way to get energy in your body and can come with a bundle of necessary nutrients (especially whole grains). However carbs, especially refined sugar and white bread, are what we call high-glycemic foods. They can cause spikes in your bodies blood sugar, which in turn creates cravings.

Remedy: Eat balanced meals. Carbs are okay, but make sure you’re also getting some healthy fats and proteins. Greek yogurt with fruit and oatmeal with peanut butter are two great ways to tackle this.

Stress

There are a couple of reasons why stress leads to hunger. One is habitual, the other is physiological. For some people, eating is a form of stress management. At some point in their development, they acquired the habit of eating in order to cure stress.

Remedy: The best way to curb a habit is through substitution. Go for a run or a walk. Meditate. Try doing absolutely nothing.

Outside of habits stress can lead to cravings just from a purely physiological standpoint. When you get stressed, your body switches into emergency fight or flight mode. Although you won’t hungry immediately, once your body begins exiting this state, you’ll find yourself not only very exhausted, but also very hungry. This is because in a stress state, cortisol gets released into the body in order to trigger motivation. Again, think back to fight or flight. Motivation = increased likelihood of survival. At the same time, cortisol also increases appetite.

Remedy: There are number of ways to reduce stress and relax. Find something that’ll make you laugh to get some appetite-reducing serotonin flowing through your body. Go outside and get some sunlight. Try one of the stress management techniques mentioned above.

Thirst

Are you drinking enough water? Opinions vary on the “right” amount of water. Some believe that people should drink half of their weight in ounces of water. I personally think that’s more of a gauge. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we’re really just thirsty. In fact, it’s easy for the brain to confuse the two. This is due in part to the fact that the same part of your brain that interprets hunger also interprets thirst signals.

Remedy: Next time you get a snack craving, drink more water and see how you feel 15 minutes later.

But what about fat-free foods? Check out the below post.

Forget Fat Free?!

 

Dr. Peter McIlveen