Home Nutrition Clock or Stomach – What Drives Your Hunger?

Clock or Stomach – What Drives Your Hunger?

“Why do we feel hunger?”

The answer to this question is a very obvious one – an indication by our body demanding for nutrients and energy. But somehow we, as a species are now highly reliant on an external clock to determine our hunger state, an approach that is completely against the natural flow.

Let’s understand why this happens with this dog analogy.

What Drives Your Hunger?

Copyright: From Lumen Learning

A dog owner wanted to train his dog. He would ring his bell and when the dog came as soon as it heard the bell, it would see a big juicy meal making it salivate. The dog owner continued this practice for a few days. After some time, he started to ring the bell, but without the food – the dog would immediately respond. The owner noticed that though there was no food, the dog was salivating.

What happened?

The dog previously used to salivate only when it saw or ate the food. Now it is conditioned to anticipate and eat food every time the bell was rung by its owner. The dog has now began to “feel hungry” simply because the bell has rung.


What has this story got to do with hunger?

Our body is the function of countless hormones and bio-chemical reactions happening within. Once such hormone is Grehlin – the hunger hormone. It is automatically simulated when the body’s energy levels are low and requires food.

When born, babies come with a natural ability to communicate their hunger needs – they cry when hungry. As they grow, they fall prey to the societal system that has caused this communication to die a slow death. This system is called – “Eating as per time, irrespective of whether the person is hungry or not”.

What Drives your Hunger?

Are you “conditioned” to eat every hour of the day?

Over time, we have completely forgotten to identify and listen to our bodies. This means – we no longer listen to the brain and stomach sending signals to indicate hunger. Somehow, the human species is one of the only ones who is largely ignoring this natural instinct and eats even when they are not hungry. Why – because, just like the dog in the story, we have conditioned our bodies to recognize time as an indicator for hunger instead of looking at the actual body requirement.

Picture this scenario:

It is 12.15pm. Manju’s tummy is sending her signals. She is uncomfortable and thinks she may be hungry. But it is not yet 1pm (lunch time). So Manju, walks up to the pantry, picks up a large cup of heavily sugared hot chocolate and some chips, adding some extra 200 KCal. It is now 1pm and Manju happily walks out for lunch, which is a meal from home. As she begins eating it, she realizes that maybe the quantity packed today is higher than normal. Yet she continues to finish it off as is her habit.

Sounds familiar?
Majority of us follow this approach to eating.

Conditioning ourselves to eat as per the clock can create the following problems:
– We stop listening to our bodies
– We do not recognize the signal to “Stop Eating”
– It can lead to over eating
– Over eating leads to Obesity and Diabetes.

Is there a signal that says – STOP Eating?

Just like how our body has a natural tendency to indicate hunger, it adopts a similar method to communicate fullness. This is highly apparent in infants on breast milk – have you noticed them automatically stopping to feed as soon as they are full? Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have conditioned ourselves to ignore the feeling of fullness and continue eating until we are bursting at our seams.

Both these conditions together – eating whether hungry or not and ignoring the Stop Eating signal – can lead to Obesity and Diabetes.

How do we unlearn these practices and learn to respect our stomach?

With legitimate hunger, a person can feel one or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Mild Stomach growling
  • Loss in focus
  • Headache
  • Feeling faint
  • Loss in energy levels
  • Feeling weak

What can you do?

  1. Wait & listen to these symptoms. Don’t look at the clock.
  2. Think back on when was the last meal & if it was substantial
  3. Drink Water. Sometimes thirst is disguised as hunger
  4. Take a walk around your office/work space. If at home, just take a walk outside.
  5. If water doesn’t help, sit down and have a meal. Ensure your meal is nutritious.

What should your meal contain?

When eating, ensure that you eat healthy, avoid junk and overly processed & packaged food. It should contain good amount of proteins and naturally occurring dietary fats to to keep you filled for longer. Proteins and Fats are proven to provide the body energy for longer levels of time, thus increasing the levels of fullness.

Practicing to eat this way can ensure a healthier and fitter body and reduce chances of one getting obese or diabetic.

Would you like a guided approach to develop this practice of healthy eating? Get in touch and we can help you out.

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