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A Nutritional Psychiatrist Explains How Your Blood Sugar Affects Your Hunger

How Your Blood Sugar Levels Can Wreck Your Healthy Food Choices

It may sound painfully obvious, but there’s a difference between being genuinely hungry and craving certain food because you’re bored, dehydrated, or experiencing a rush of stress hormones (more on that later). 

We know this, we understand this, yet we still subconsciously reach for the cookies and crackers when we’re feeling peckish. How can we hop off this roller coaster of eating every two hours? 

Nutritional psychiatrist Georgia Ede, M.D., may have the answer. According to Ede, recognizing when we’re hungry or craving is the first step to controlling those yearnings in the first place. Here’s how you can tell if your body truly needs a snack

It’s all about insulin—and it starts with junk food. 

According to Ede, we’re constantly experiencing blood sugar spikes and stress hormones, which contributes to the feeling that we need to eat all day long. And it looks like junk food is to blame. 

When you eat something especially processed and sugary, your blood sugar will spike. In response, your insulin levels will spike to bring the glucose back down to normal. 

“When the blood sugar is being pulled down by insulin very rapidly, that's a signal to the body it's an emergency. We can't let the blood sugar go down to zero—that's the worst thing that could ever happen to us. So the body releases stress hormones that counteract that,” Ede explains on the mindbodygreen podcast

These stress hormones are responsible for telling your body that it needs to eat right away, and here lies the roller coaster of faux hunger and processed foods. 


So, what can we do?

The best thing we can do to curb this craving, Ede tells mbg, is to cut out these processed snacks entirely. Just the lack of refined sugar alone will help your insatiable hanger, but if you want to go the extra mile, Ede suggests a low-carb eating plan will do the trick. 

“For people who eat a ketogenic diet, or even just a plain old low carbohydrate diet, they often notice that they feel they need to eat a lot less often. And when they do get hungry, it's a more comfortable, tolerable, kind of hunger.” 

Ede assures you’ll find it easier to combat your hunger pains if you’re eating whole, fatty foods, and you won’t experience what she calls the “I'm going to eat the living room chair” kind of hunger. While it may take a little more preparation to whip up, look for foods that will help you stay fuller for longer. Your insulin levels will thank you. 

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