Why am I still hungry after eating?
Do you ever ask yourself, “Why am I still hungry after eating?”
Or do you finish a meal and somehow still always make room for dessert?
I know I have.
We’ve all been there – you polish off a substantial meal and still feel like you could demolish three scoops of gelato!
Feeling hungry and unsatisfied after a decent meal is more common than you think.
It’s also confusing and, frankly, pretty annoying.
Especially if you’re working on following your hunger cues (learn more about this in my book), but your tummy keeps shouting gimme more!
Here are some likely reasons for your unexplained hunger post-mealtime:
1. You crave new flavours
There’s something called sensory-specific satiety – and it may have something to do with why you always have ‘room for dessert’.
When you eat something – a few things will make you decide it’s time to stop eating.
One of the main factor is fullness and hunger.
But another really important factor is how ‘interesting’ you find the food.
After eating a plate of savoury food with one kind of flavour profile, you’ll eventually get bored of it. And this will contribute to why you stop eating.
However, your body craves variety.
So it wants a new flavour (let’s say something sweet…. like ice-cream or chocolate!) simply because it’s ‘new’ or different.
So how do you get around this?
I’d recommend your main meal eat until satisfaction… this means you stop eating before you’re full (more on this in my book).
And if you get the craving for something sweet, you choose something like a mint or a piece of chocolate or a little fruit or yoghurt.
Even just a mouthful of something ‘new’ should help take the craving away.
Eat it with enjoyment – without a side serving of guilt.
2. You feel deprived
When you feel emotionally deprived of food, you can eat, and eat, and eat … and never really feel satisfied.
As I mentioned above, you get bored of stuff you eat a lot of. But avoiding something makes you more interested in it.
If at the back of your mind, you feel like you’re not allowed to eat a certain food (like pasta or peanut butter straight from the jar), it will always seem ‘interesting’ to you.
This is why creating a list of ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’ foods backfires.
Even ‘trying to be good ‘ is mindset creates a sense of lack, leaving you feeling unsatisfied, no matter how much you eat.
Feeling guilty about eating seriously sucks – I’ve been there – and completely strips the JOY from mealtimes and delicious food.
I used to be a binge and emotional eater – but only because I was ALWAYS trying to be good.
If you feel like you can just eat and eat and eat (something that can be described as binge eating) then go have a chat with your doctor about binge eating disorder.
Back in 2010, I was still struggling with binge eating. Now I help others learn how to stop binge and emotional eating for good with Keep it Real Program 🙂
3. You need more balance
But there’s a reason dietitians recommend including each of the key food groups in each meal.
It’s because eating balanced meals keeps your tummy fuller for longer, your body energised and your brain brilliant.
So next time you’re whipping up dinner or eating out, check if your meal includes:
- A serving of healthy fat – e.g. avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts
- Some slow-burning carbs – e.g. sweet potatoes, brown rice, wholegrain bread
- A little bit of lean protein – e.g. fish, chicken, beans, nuts, tofu
Then load the rest of your meal with veggies.
This humble hat-trick will help keep you feeling satisfied for a lot longer than avoiding carbs or fats altogether – and it’ll also make sure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to be healthy.
(Pictured: These Tuna Poke Bowls from Back to Basics are beautifully balanced with healthy carbs – brown rice/edamame, protein – tuna and fats – avocado… plus plenty of rainbow veg).
Many fad diets are all about cutting out entire food groups. I’m not about that kinda nonsense.
The problem with cutting out entire food groups is that it creates an imbalance in your body – you feel hungry because your body is still craving something it literally needs to function.
And if you ask me, trying to eat like a palaeolithic caveman in 2019 (or any year for that matter) is, well… not something a respectable health care professional would recommend.
Thankfully, you, my friend, smart enough to know that – and that’s why you’re here.
If you want some easy, healthy and fast recipes that include all the key food groups, hop aboard the Back to Basics lifestyle.
4. You’re not eating enough
Here’s one thing (of many) I know to be true:
If you under eat at one meal, chances are you’ll end up eating more at the next meal.
The problem with under-eating at breakfast or lunch (there’s that pesky “trying to be good” fallacy again), is that you’re way more likely to overeat or binge because you’re completely burnt out and starving from running on empty.
You’re better off eating a substantial lunch full of healthy fats, slow-burning carbs and lean protein, a powerhouse trio that’ll keep you energised while you’re running around being your best self.
A solid lunch means you can happily enjoy a lighter (albeit balanced) dinner before laying horizontally for ideally 7+ hours.
5. You’re not eating enough vegetables and fruits
You’ve heard it 86,000,000,001 times before – eat your veggies, people!
Only 5% of Aussie’s eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables bulk out your meals, giving you plenty of roughage to fill your stomach… This helps you feel full.
What’s a serving size of vegetables?
1 serve = the size of your closed fist.
Dietitians (and pretty much every health care professional) recommended you get 5-10 serves of vegetables a day.
It’s a lot of vegetables, I know!
(Pictured: These Lamb Meatballs with Moroccan Couscous from Back to Basics are balanced with half a plate of vegetables).
When it comes to fruit, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends aiming for 1-2 serves daily.
Bulking up your breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few sneaky vegetables and fruits will add more roughage, fibre and volume to your meal, helping you feel more satisfied.
Here’s a couple of sneaky hacks you can try today to up your fruit and veg intake:
- Sprinkle banana coins on peanut butter on toast
- Pop a handful of spinach or frozen zucchini into your smoothie
- Serve your eggs with a side of cherry tomatoes and avocado
(This is a photo of my omelette, which is loaded with asparagus, capsicum (pepper), mushrooms and herbs).
- Bulk up Thai takeaway by asking for extra veggies
- Chop up any and all veggies in your fridge, open a tin of tuna and adorn with your favourite dressing
- Snack on a carrot between meals – or pickles!
- Whip up a quick and healthy one-tray dinner like this one or this one.
- Stew a giant batch of lentil Bolognese with carrots and mushrooms and freeze leftovers (access my fave recipe on Back to Basics!).
This One Tray Fajita Bake (recipe from Back to Basics) is loaded with veggies – but also loaded with flavour.
6. You may be thirsty
It’s easy to confuse hunger with thirst. The sensations are similar, especially after eating.
To avoid confusion, I like to have (and finish) a big glass of water at every meal.
And carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go also helps. I prefer a thermo style water bottle to keep my water cold all day.
Not sure if you’re drinking enough? Urine luck! It’s super easy – just check your pee:
- If it’s light yellow or clear and has no smell, you’re drinking enough.
- If it’s very yellow and has a strong smell, you need to drink more.
7. You’re always craving something sweet
Sometimes you might notice that you have sweet cravings after a meal… even though you’re not actually hungry.
If this feels familiar, check out my blog post about how to stop sugar cravings after main meals.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy recipes that will make your taste buds do a little dance AND satisfy your hunger for longer, check out my lifestyle program Back to Basics.