We’ve all had the experience: You polished off your “emergency” chocolate bar just a short while ago, but already feel hunger pangs again. Is it possible? Sure it is. But you shouldn’t pay attention to the pangs.
The sensation of hunger is essential for survival. When your stomach is empty and blood sugar levels low, your brain calls for food – which is as it should be, because you really do need an energy refill.
The problem is that the brain can be easily tricked into thinking the body is hungry, by images of food, for example, says Birgit-Christiane Zyriax, a nutrition specialist at Hamburg-Eppendorf University Medical Centre in Germany.
“Seeing food whets our appetite, which is hardly distinguishable from hunger,” she notes.
Another problem is that blood sugar levels can be manipulated. When we eat something, the body secretes insulin in two steps: at first just a little, and then a lot more in preparation for the main course, so to speak.
Insulin allows glucose, or sugar, from food to pass from the bloodstream into tissues, thereby lowering blood sugar levels.
When you eat a chocolate bar, your body secretes a very high amount of insulin. But the few bites it takes to eat it are followed by… nothing. Your blood sugar levels subsequently plummet, making you feel even hungrier, although you don’t need any more calories for now.
It’s important to know that a healthy person manages quite well without food for a good while. “From a medical standpoint, the body isn’t in fasting mode until eight to 10 hours after the last intake of food. But hardly anyone can wait that long anymore,” Zyriax says.
If you can’t help snacking, you should at least eat right. Zyriax recommends crudites – mixed raw vegetables – with a curd cheese or yoghurt, together with some oatmeal and fruit. This will supply the body with energy while keeping blood sugar levels fairly stable.
Ideally, you won’t be hungry again until your stomach is empty. – dpa