Why do we eat without being hungry?

Have you ever eaten without appetite? Surely you have experienced it many times. But why do we eat without being hungry? In this article We will explain what are the factors that make us eat without really needing.

If we ask the question Why do we feel hungry?, the answers are:

  • Cover the nutrient needs to live.
  • Maintain cellular structures and functions.
  • Give energy to our body.

But, today, we eat more and more for pleasure than to nourish ourselves. Our culture, the stress society we live in, food marketing or the ease of access to a wide variety of foods are factors that can influence this problem. Let's find out why we eat without being hungry.

What is hunger and how is it regulated?

Hunger is the sensation that indicates the natural need to provide the body with food, produced by substances that operate at the level of the brain, in the hypothalamus.

Hunger, satiety and energy balance are regulated by an integrated neuroendocrine system at the hypothalamus level. The system consists of a complex network of neurohormonal circuits. This network includes molecular signals of peripheral and central origin, of short and long duration, as well as other factors of sensory, mechanical and cognitive type.

Short-term signals are regulated by ghrelin, which increases with fasting, and leptin, which inhibits food intake and increases metabolism. Instead, Long-lasting signals reflect the size of the fat reserve.

But, as we have commented previously, there are other external factors that encourage us to eat without being hungry. Next, we will explain them.

You may also be interested: 10 causes that cause a constant feeling of hunger

Why do we eat without being hungry?

High palatability of food

The food industry has created foods with very powerful flavors so that our appetite is awakened and we want to continue eating more. For example, the mixture of sugar and fat in sweets or very salty foods with artificial aromas such as french fries.

They have even invented a fifth flavor, the umami flavor, which is possessed by foods rich in monosodium glutamate. This is mainly found in ultraprocessed foods.

Food marketing

We find food advertising everywhere, and not just healthy food. Watch an ad for a food that catches your eye while you're watching TV, It can cause certain emotions and marketing takes advantage of it to get more sales.

The commercials get us to hum your melody or know your slogan. When we see or hear the announcement of a food product, we can be tempted to consume it, whatever time it is.

Social and cultural factors

Another factor for which we eat without being hungry is because our culture makes everything we celebrate eating and drinking. Celebrating a party, Christmas, a wedding, etc., are moments that can make us eat too much without just noticing.

The emotions

"I have a bad day at work, I have had a lot of stress, I get home overwhelmed, I need to relax and feel better …" Probably, you went through this and took refuge in the food. Many times we eat out of boredom, stress, happiness, sadness, etc. This is what is called emotional hunger.

Usually, in those moments, you can lose control in different measure. The most common is to unconsciously choose unhealthy foods that have fat, sugar or salt.

A lot of variety of foods

Today, we have countless foods: local, imported from other countries, adapted to different lifestyles and many unhealthy foods. The human being tempted to try new things, so it will be harder for us to control ourselves.

You have to read: Food industry strategies that can confuse you

Not getting enough sleep

Lack of sleep causes alterations in the hormones responsible for regulating appetite and makes us more hungry. It also causes us to opt for more caloric foods, with more fat, as this study of Scientific Reports.

How can we control eating without being hungry?

The first thing is not to buy unhealthy foods, such as sweets, salty snacks, pizzas, sugary drinks, etc. In substitution, we will buy healthy foods, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, natural dairy, dark chocolate … So, in case you feel like pecking, you can only eat some of these foods that you have in the fridge or pantry.

Second, listen to your body, Ask yourself the following question: "Am I really hungry?". If you have eaten recently, you are probably not hungry. If you prefer to eat a chocolate cookie instead of a fruit, it may be because of anxiety or boredom.

Another option, if your desire still suffers, is to start doing another activity to forget about eating. For example, go for a walk, call a friend or read a book. Also, do not forget to sleep well and exercise.