The Science of Hunger

Eating is a necessary part of daily living. The habit of securing meals is not something we have to think about or remember to do. Our bodies naturally signal us when hunger arises. This ensures proper fuel needed to survive. Missed meals often result in negative emotions and physical discomfort.  The body can respond to hunger in many different ways.

The Comfort Connection

Comfort food often describes sweets or starches. The act of eating as a response to stress is not the natural survival mechanism. This act refers to connections that have been made in the brain with certain food stimuli. Some foods, such as chocolate, do offer a chemical feel- good reaction. This happy feeling drives people to eat when they want to improve their emotional state. This habit, however, can lead to dangerous levels of obesity in individuals with emotional complications. Food then becomes the enemy, unable to accomplish the task of keeping one healthy. This type of desire for food is considered hedonic and may be more apparent in cultures with high stress and processed foods.

The Hungry Feeling

The physical sensations that prompt you to seek nourishment are felt by numerous parts of your body. The brain signals the body when fuel is low. These signals include a growling stomach, a light-headed feeling, and stomach pains. These symptoms subside when food is delivered. The stomach begins to settle down, and you feel more stable. Food cravings led by survival instincts are called homeostatic. The brain receives signals from the mouth, intestines and stomach when you begin to eat. The brain helps to send the sensation of fullness, so you know when to stop eating.


Health conscious individuals know focus on the protein. The goal of healthy eating is to supply the body with the necessary nutrients for activity. Those who diet often limit food quantities without first securing proper protein sources. Hunger returns soon if a meal consists of fats, sugars, and highly processed foods. Protein is the key to remaining full for longer periods of time. Meat, beans, and eggs offer sufficient protein and can be served at every meal.


The body needs carbohydrates to make energy. The key is to find a balance. Carbohydrates are the first thing cut from the menu when a diet ensues. This can, however, backfire by sapping energy needed to exercise. The body processes some things faster than others. Breads and sweets are not the best items to use for carbohydrates. Many sources offer fuel without sacrificing health and diet rules.  Oatmeal is an excellent way to start the day. Beans, barley, and squash also offer healthy carbohydrates. Find a good balance by trying different combinations of foods to suit your health routine.

Sleep and Mental State

Healthy eating habits tend to lessen when other daily habits become unhealthy. Sleep deprivation results are often overlooked. Your body shifts into survival mode after staying awake for extended periods of time. You may start looking for anything that makes you feel better. Cookies, chips, and other snack foods are often reached for by sleep deprived people. The onset of sugar and quick energy drop will make you feel worse. Proper amounts of sleep are necessary for your body to send the correct hunger signals.

Stress also sends individuals running for the cookie supply. The temporary euphoria from this comfort food will soon fade, leaving your body physically drained. Find ways to decrease stress so your body can function properly.

Hunger is a natural reaction that exists to ensure survival. It is important to listen carefully to nature’s cues when choosing what to put in our body. The signals sent by your brain are there to help. Satiate hunger with a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Your body responds best with healthy eating, exercise, and proper sleep habits.

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