Why you are hungry all the time – and what you can do about it

“We evolved to survive unpredictable food supply, but many of us now live in an environment where there’s an oversupply, but biologically, we’re still ancient,” says Dr McCarthy.

“We’ve got that inbuilt biology of storing fat and behaviourally being attracted to sweeter, fatty foods. We have cravings for particular combinations and those are the ones that have been manufactured to perfection. 

“The ‘bliss point’ is a term coined by food scientist Howard Moskowitz to describe the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat that makes us crave more of a certain food. Food technologists develop and engineer particular combinations of flavours and textures, then do rigorous market testing to see which things consumers find the most palatable or moreish.  

“We’ve got this enormous pressure pushing us towards consumption. As a result, what we’re consuming is calorie-dense, energy-dense foods that aren’t necessarily very nutrient-dense. So we’re driven to keep eating.”

If you eat too much, you might need more sleep

Sleep deprivation can cause an elevation in ghrelin. “An increase of 15 per cent in our hunger hormone and a reduction of 15 per cent in satiety hormone is seen with poor sleep,” says Cox.

Chew more, eat less and never in the car

“People who chew more eat less calories,” says Dr Megan Rossi from The Gut Health Clinic. “Food sits in your stomach for longer, a residue may stay in your mouth, activating the different hormones so you feel more satisfied.”

“Slowing down allows time for hormonal signals to kick in, telling you you’re full, or for you to tire of eating,” says Moore. One of her pet peeves is people eating in the car. “It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention.”

Don’t ban any food

“A technique I find helpful with clients is rather than saying ‘never again’, which can be overwhelming for someone who feels reliant on highly palatable, addictive foods, is to say: ‘just not today’,” says Cox.

“And the more of those ‘just not today’ decisions you make, it snowballs and your dopamine pathways become sensitised again. You find pleasure in the umami flavours, saltiness, natural sweetness in blueberries and strawberries. Foods we’ve lost interest in taste incredible, our palate literally changes.”

“Always think about what you can add to your meal rather than what you can take away,” says Abigail Green, a nutritionist at Nuffield Health.

“Add more nourishing things to a snack so it looks like a mini meal. If you want crisps, go for it, but add veg sticks or fruit. If you combine foods, there is more satiety, particularly if you have protein and fibre and healthy fats.”

Fibre, fibre, fibre

“Dietary fibre slows down digestion of the food in the gut, which activates the fullness hormones more quickly. Fibre also feeds the gut bacteria in the lower part of the intestine, and produces chemicals called short-chain fatty acids, which help to regulate our appetite hormones,” says Dr Rossi.

Soon I’m adding milled flax seeds to meals, eating potato with the skin on, as well as opting for beans and lentils over grains. Gritty, but filling.

Meanwhile, a new clinical trial by science and nutrition company Zoe has found a huge reduction in hunger for 88.6 per cent of participants who followed the Zoe method, as well as weight loss and reduced waist circumference. “We know that a fibre-rich diet and lots of whole plants, nuts, seeds and legumes is what stimulates the production of hormones in the gut that make us feel full.

“They’re called satiety hormones, things like GLP-1, which is what Ozempic mimics, except you can make them yourself through diet,” says Dr Federica Amati, Zoe’s head of nutrition. 

I find it empowering that our body can make its own weight-loss drug.

When the gut microbes have enough fibre to break down, they produce chemicals that tell the endocrine cells to produce hormones in the gut. These get sent to the brain to tell it we’re full. She recommends I cook a lentil daal with spinach, carrots and onions. “You get a vast amount of micronutrients and phytonutrients and polyphenols for a relatively small amount of energy.”

Don’t fear fat

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