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Have you ever eaten without having an appetite and without it being the canonical time to do so? It can happen for gluttony every now and then but if it happens too often it comes to nervous hunger. I don't want to make easy diagnoses with the incipit of an article, so let's go and see better what it is, together, then I leave it to each of you, and to the experts, to judge case by case the reasons for a chocolate every now and then or a midnight spaghetti. It is difficult to judge but there are signs that can help us understand whether or not we have a problem with nervous hunger.
Nervous hunger: what it is
When we happen to eat even though we are not hungry, it can be the consequence of an alteration of the control mechanism by the hypothalamus. Let's try to see how the mechanism works to identify where obstacles can emerge. There are sentinels in the brain who have the task of signaling to the body when the sugar level has dropped too low. This situation is called of hypoglycemia. It is clear that, having received this input, the reaction is triggered that leads us to feel the need for food and to take actions to get it.
Open the fridge, go to the bar to get a brioche, cook an omelette, munch on a snack that we have carefully put in our bags in the morning, expecting an afternoon sugar drop. It may happen that this mechanism does not work perfectly, for several reasons, e thus the feeling of hunger is triggered even if there is no sugar drop, in fact. Here is the nervous hunger. There is also the hypothesis, all to be confirmed, that at the basis of some types of obesity and some forms of food disorders there may be malfunctions of these mechanisms.
Nervous hunger: symptoms
Say you are facing an episode of nervous hunger every time you find yourself eating even if you are not hungry it is a bit exaggerated and would be a way to create false alarmism. It happens to everyone to make an exception to the rule, to nibble a bit of bread out of boredom, to sit at the table even without a sense of hunger, but this does not necessarily mean that we all suffer from nervous hunger.
If these episodes are recursive and frequent, if we often find ourselves attacked by an irrepressible urge, by a compulsive act related to food, then yes we can talk about hunger of the nervous type. When such an attack occurs, it feels like a prey to a raptus and without wanting to hear or see anything, you start eating, gorging yourself more or less with the first edible thing you find and then, as it usually happens, you feel guilty immediately afterwards.
This is what happens during an episode of nervous hunger, an episode that arises or may arise from a sense of anxiety or sadness, from a condition of low self-esteem or from the suffering linked to loneliness. In our head in a certain sense in an automatic and often unconscious way we go to replace affection, the security or joy we don't have, with food.
As children, if you think about it, we all suffer a little from nervous hunger but obviously in a few months it passes. If you think, however, what I described earlier is what happens when a baby cries because it requires affection and the mother offers him the feed even if hunger is not the real reason for crying. This is one of the ways in which confusion can be created but it is certainly not from such a gesture that everything originates, there are much more complex mechanisms that must not be simplified with maternal pictures that often do nothing but load the mother figure.
Nervous hunger: cures
Let's go back to the present and try to investigate the causes more frequent than nervous hunger, without pretending to solve individual cases to be faced with specialists. Very often behind this problem there is a deep sadness that we try to drown in food. Equally often it happens that the origin of eating without being hungry is instead one strong feeling of anxiety or a deep loneliness that in no way we can overcome, not even going out with friends and colleagues every evening, because it is inherent in us and in our way of conceiving ourselves in the social space.
Nervous hunger: natural remedies
First it is very important to understand what kind of sensation precedes the urge to eat even without there being a physical need. We try to distinguish between anxiety, boredom, sadness and loneliness or whatever. Comparing with a friend or a specialist can help clarify your ideas. There are also concrete actions that can result in natural remedies for nervous hunger, first of all thephysical activity which can be a real sport or even a walk or a run in a park. It would also be very useful to practice relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga or pilates - all in their own way can help calm nervous hunger.
You can also rely on herbs, choosing the most suitable ones. Among all, we recommend the citrus aurantium and rhodiola rosea but if there is anxiety behind hunger, linden, lemon balm, angelica and passionflower are also excellent. Another type of approach is that which focuses on the use of supplements based on glucomannan, guar gum, cellulose and inulin. How do they work? These products swell in the stomach in the presence of water and give a sense of satiety, avoiding making us feel the sense of hunger.
Nervous hunger: what to eat
It is clear that you cannot "turn off" the nervous hunger as if there was an ad hoc switch. As we work on it, we can begin to consume foods that are not bad for us, the moment we have an attack. We avoid foods that contain too many fats which, in addition to making us gain weight, have a negative effect on both the brain and the secretion of leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger, easily creating a vicious circle. No too sweet and too salty snacks that are addictive.
Whatever you eat is very important chew calmly and don't swallow it all in one fell swoop Let us always impose ourselves, not only during an attack of nervous hunger, to savor food slowly: it makes you feel first the sense of fullness and avoids overdoing the quantities.
We said what to avoid, but not what to eat: fibers, lots of fiber and, if possible, foods rich in B vitamins, which have an antidepressant action, of Omega 3, which ensures the functionality of the nervous system, and probiotics, allies of both the intestine and mood.
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