Eating habits are governed primarily by emotions and lifestyle. It is common - even more so at the moment we are living in - that we have peaks of hunger and cravings for food. Some days we eat more, others - less, and this variation depends on a number of factors. However, some of them can be behavioral, emotional or physical, and learning to differentiate them is essential for a better quality of life or if you are trying to lose weight, as not all hunger means that the body is really in need of nourishment. Thus, specialist in obesity, Edivana Poltronieri, explains how to recognise the 3 main motivations for hunger, how to differentiate them from the desire to eat and what to do to control them.
This is a habit-driven hunger. The body does not feel the need to eat, but the brain sends a message programmed by our habits, that it is time to eat, even if the last meal happened just a short time ago. For this case, Poltronieri delivers the solution: establish new habits!
"It's not easy, but it's posssible. The brain gets used to everything that is imposed on it. For example, if the job requires us to wake up at a time we are not used to, in the first few days we may need the help of an alarm clock, but soon we will wake up alone. This is because we re-educate the body. Food is no different. Adaptation is challenging, but the body will soon process the new habit naturally.”
Hunger comes in peaks of sadness or joy, and food can become a consolation or a reward. This lack of control is not related to habits, but to impulses.
''The body is not hungry, but the person needs to eat and usually consumes very greasy foods to feel emotionally relieved. However, soon afterwards, the feeling of guilt arrives and this cycle, in the long run, causes the person to create a negative relationship with food,” explains the expert.
This is a hunger that arises from physical signs, such as a stomach rumbling. In this type of hunger, the person understands that it is time to eat and is able to calmly evaluate the options they have on the menu. It is not hunger driven by impulses, but satisfaction.
Hunger During Quarantine
After more than three months of confinement, development of new eating habits is normal, whether healthy or not. Anxiety and stress, illnesses that many people had already experienced even before the period of isolation, were further exacerbated.
"Because we have access to food more easily, it becomes more difficult to control emotional hunger," she explains. The specialist also advises on delivery services. “Food apps are practical, but they can make us more susceptible to processed and heavy foods. Therefore, I recommend that a schedule be made for the week's meals, such as lunch and dinner. Leaving meals ready and frozen reduces the chances of bad eating habits.”
Another tip is to control the amount of what you eat. Fruits, for example, are great dessert options, but can have the opposite effect when consumed in excess, considering that some of them have high sugar levels. ''Policing the amount of fruit and also oilseeds is important, as they are caloric foods that people snack on without paying attention to the amount,” the expert concludes.