If you have subscribed to a diet at any time of your life, you most likely felt hungry and deprived. Take a look at the 9 consequences of chronic hunger, and learn what you can do about it. This will help you achieve your weight loss goals without hunger or deprivation.  

If you’re a serial dieter or someone that has struggled with the yo-yo weight cycle that diets promote, then you may notice feeling chronically hungry. What you may not realize is that being chronically hungry has at least 9 consequences that I address here.  

Your desire to lose weight through a diet is the number one reason for ongoing hunger. However, aside from diets, there can be these 9 reasons you’re feeling hungry all the time.

  1. You’re not eating enough protein, fat or fiber. All of these food groups create a sense of fulness and satiety.
  2. You are feeling sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep regulates the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin. Low sleep equals high ghrelin which then leads to increased appetite. In addition, a good night’s sleep creates normal levels of leptin which gives a sense of fulness.
  3. You are eating too many refined carbohydrates. Stripped fiber, vitamins and minerals digest quickly and leaves you hungry more frequently. It also leads to sugar spikes and crashes. The crash tells your body you need more food.
  4. Dehydration, or need to drink more water. Water is filling and reduces hunger. Mistaken thirst feels like hunger. Instead of eating, have a glass of water and see if you’re still hungry.
  5. Distraction while eating or you’re on autopilot. This leads to being unaware of your hunger and fullness. Lack of awareness leaves you feeling dissatisfied and wanting more.
  6. Too much exercise can lead to excess hunger. Burning more energy than is replenished, increases hunger. Vigorous, long term exercise over a period of days or months can lead to increased hunger.
  7. Alcohol consumption can also lead to increased hunger. Alcohol stimulates appetite and has the potential depending on how much you are drinking, to inhibit your mindfulness and awareness of your hunger and fullness.
  8. High stress also leads to higher amount of the hormone cortisol which then leads to increased appetite.
  9. Eating quickly can leave you feeling dissatisfied and thinking you’re still hungry when in fact your body has had enough food.

If some or any of these 9 reasons for your ongoing hunger resonate with you, it is important to know the 9 consequences of chronic hunger.

  1. Hunger creates a sense of deprivation that not only effects your body but also effects your brain. The brain will want to protect you from lack of energy, nutrition, and calories. In fact, the brain has a system installed that will literally increase hunger and intensify cravings.
  2. Stephan Guyenet, PhD, author of The Hungry Brain, states the brain will fight the body over weight loss that comes from deprivation.
  3. Chronic hunger can lead to a full-blown eating disorder. A gained sense of control as hunger becomes familiar, is preferred over other things in life that feel very out of control.
  4. Long periods of hunger bloat or give a sense of fullness with only a tiny bit of consumed food. Food feels uncomfortable and then gets associated with shame. When certain food groups are labeled as bad (as in diets), then there is shame associated if you eat it. “I ate this hamburger, which is bad, therefore I am bad.”
  5. Increased anxiety and anger are common results of chronic hunger over time. Lack of nutrition causes both physical and mental instability. Like being “hangry”, you’re anger gets easily triggered when hungry. You tend to have more patience and ability to stay calm if you’re nutritionally taken care of.
  6. There is also a rebound effect of chronic hunger. If hunger goes on long enough, the brain will want more and more of what is forbidden. This rebelliousness is in all of us. This is why so many people end up gaining their weight back after a diet, or worse, gaining even more back than what was lost.
  7. Another consequence of chronic hunger is a slower metabolism. Once the metabolism slows down, it is harder to burn calories. Calories will store in fat. This is a survival mechanism so that you don’t starve to death. Eventually, if hunger goes on for too long, your organs start to break down. This is what happens in anorexia nervosa and why it is such a life-threatening disease.
  8. Increased hunger over time will also make weight loss harder and harder. A damaged metabolism will make weight loss difficult even if you’re doing everything “right”. The body will not know whether to burn calories up or save them for survival. So, basically, the body doesn’t work for you anymore.
  9. Finally, chronic hunger puts so much stress on the body that it raises the stress hormone cortisol which increases hunger and makes weight loss very challenging. The worst thing you can do for yourself in your attempt to cut calories and lose weight is to deprive yourself over long periods of time. The stress on your bod is detrimental to every part of you; mind, body and soul.

These are all very serious and potentially life-threatening consequences to chronic hunger. Hopefully, you’re willing to take a good look at what you’ve been doing and perhaps make some positive changes that are gentler and loving toward your body.  

Weight loss does not have to be so grueling and painful. And it certainly does not have to be so damaging to your mind and body.

Mindfulness is the key to healthy, sustainable weight loss over time. I see it as a lifestyle, not something you start and stop. Deprivation leads to the up and down, hunger, and overeating cycle that causes your weight loss frustration to persist.

My article on intuitive eating and mindfulness explains what it is and helps you explore if it is a good option for you. It’s not easy to drop the diet mentality. The depriving mindset that restricts calories and certain food groups, although the hardest thing to sever from your thought process, is NOT the way to achieve your weight loss goals.  

Daily bombardment from society that looking a certain way, achieving the best body possible can only happen with certain diets or exercise regimens. This breeds the negative belief you are not good enough. This is a pandemic like no other and it’s been spreading for generations.  

I am on a mission to spread the vaccine against societies message. The vaccine is mindfulness!

Have you’ve been spending months and years on diets? If you’ve tried every diet known to man and are dissatisfied, it is time to see that you’re actually shooting yourself in the foot. Diets only lead to chronic hunger that have too many consequences to make it really worth it.  

Your body does not need to be perfect. It needs to be comfortable.

Be open to a new way to relate to your body that is not perfect, but comfortable and appreciated. Learn to engage with food in a way that is mindful, gentle and absolutely enjoyable. No more deprivation, restriction, or chronic hunger.  

Lesley Goth, PsyD has created an online program, Women’s Sustainable Weight Loss Intensive. Lesley teaches and guides you through mindfulness as well as the underlying issues that have kept you stuck in your weight loss struggle. To learn more about Lesley’s program, click here.