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Satisfying stomach hunger

This week we’re moving down from the mouth to the stomach, for the fourth type of hunger …. Stomach hunger.

I’m sure everyone can relate to hunger pangs coming from their stomach, but what signal does your stomach really give you when it is hungry?  It may be an emptiness that wants to be filled, or a constriction as if the space is being ground up. 

From an evolutionary point of view, hunger pangs from the stomach are essential as they are a reminder that we need to eat.  However, as well as the stomach telling us when to eat, we also tell the stomach when to be hungry.  For example, if we travel to a different time zone, the stomach learns when to expect food according to the new time zone and therefore when to be hungry.  Similarly, if we’re used to eating three course meals then that is what the stomach expects and will growl at only being given one course until it re-adjusts.

Emotions can often be confused as stomach hunger.  Anxiety, for example, can make the stomach growl and grind.  However, trying to satisfy anxiety with food will only make the stomach growl and ‘act up’ even more.

In order to help satisfy stomach hunger it is therefore important to:

  • Tune in to your stomach and identify whether it is actually signalling hunger pangs, rather than anxiety or stress.
  • Eat slowly so that the stomach is not overfilled, as it can do its job best when it is two-thirds full rather than over loaded.
  • Eat at the times and the quantities that you aspire to eat.  The stomach will grumble for the first day or two, but will then quickly adjust and learn the new eating patterns.
  • Rate you level of stomach hunger from zero (not hungry) to ten (‘starving’) at the beginning and end of a meal.  Once you have this awareness of how your stomach feels it will be easier to tune into it and eat accordingly.

Stomach hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or to book a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia

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