Having extreme hunger or extreme cravings or uncontrollable binging sessions is not a healthy relationship with food and is often a sign that something is wrong.
Binge eating (or bulimia – where you also compensate for the binging) is actually a lot more common than people realise, and it is an eating disorder that many can keep secret for years. Infact it is believed that the statistics are lower than in reality because so many people keep their illness a secret and don’t seek help for fear of embarrassement. Often it is not an eating disorder that people can see from the outside, i.e such as when someone loses a lot of weight due to anorexia. People with binge eating disorder can be a normal weight and keep their illness secret for years – a lot longer than other eating disorders.
Having cravings and over eating is not the same as binging and having unctronllable eating sessions.
Having extreme hunger with or without binging is often a sign that you are not eating enough or your diet isn’t balanced. Extreme hunger can happen for many different reasons such as…
Are you eating enough carbohydrates?
Are you eating enough healthy fats?
Are you eating enough protein?
Are you sleeping enough and drinking enough water?
Are you eating enough calories and eating regular meal times?
Are your hormones in check/balance…?
Do you have a healthy body fat percentage?
Do you feel satisfied after eating a meal or do you still feel hungry/have cravings?
If you are feeling extremely hungry my recommendation is to eat…. We are brainwashed with eating mini portions and eating “diet food”. Thinking that we can only eat according to portion sizes… but you know what, your body often knows better than generic portion sizes and recommendations. They are just guidelines, and not something you have to follow. Eat the amount that YOU need.
Eat an extra snack, take that extra portion of food, eat 8 meals in a day if you feel that that is what your body is calling after. It can be scary, especially if you are used to only eating a few times a day or eating mini portions. But listen to your body… that is key.
It can be scary to listen to your body when it is constantly hungry and you feel like you could just keep eating non stop. But there is often a reason for that feeling, and the best thing is to just eat what your body is calling after.
And remember to NOT restrict if you do eat more – that will just end up in a binge-restrict cycle. Try to eat regular meal times and eat until full/satisfied, and then eat again when you are hungry even if that means 30 minutes later.
You might just need a few days of eating more (yup, you can end up eating several thousand calories and THAT IS OK.) for your body to calm down. It may be due to hormones, stress or too low body fat. (Too low body fat can impact your hormones and make you feel extra hungry.) Also if you have been on a restrcitve diet – even just a short time can make your hormones go wild and make you feel extra hungry.
If your body has been restricted from calories or certain macronutrients it deprives your body and then signals kick in to “store food and want all the food” in preperation for starvation/times with little food. And to regulate your hormones and signals you need to eat more, give your body all the nutrients and energy it needs, not stress or feel guilty. But also having a healthy body fat percentage and healthy hormone balance are two factors that regular hunger and cravings.
If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, extreme hunger can last several weeks. And if it is due to stress or hormones, then you need to fix the actual problem – but also eating more can help the cravings and hunger.
I would recommend regular meals and eating more. Eat bigger portions and if it doesn’t go away after a week or two where you allow yourself to eat more – no restrictions. Then maybe go to the doctor to get blood tests or see if there is a medical reason for the extreme hunger (if it isn’t because of restrictive dieting or an eating disorder or too low body fat.)
It may just be that you have been undereating unintentiontinally, or maybe you are too active and don’t eat enough. Or maybe you just need more carbs or more fats and you haven’t been eating enough of those macronutrients.
I hope this helps anyone who has extreme hunger. Just remember that extreme hunger which lasts for more than several days as well as extreme cravings are often a sign/symptom of something. Also note, this is just advice and i would recommend going to a doctor, dietitan or a therapist if the extreme hunger continues for a long time.
If you are eating enough and eating balanced then there shouldn’t be any extreme cravings, binging or extreme hunger.
Remember, the body is smart. If there is problems or unbalance in your body it will show symptoms and send signals to try to repair the problem. Listen to your body!
More posts about extreme hunger, cravings, binges etc:
Lots of posts from my previous blog:
Emotional eating vs. Extreme hunger
Recovery reminders and truths
Gaining weight after anorexia: What to expect
Hunger and fullness
Calorie intake in recovery
Fear of continuing to gain weight after reaching a healthy weight
How to eat after recovery
Phases of recovery
Overeating because its delicious
Making a change and overcoming fear
Increasing meal plan and fear of weight gain
Eating intuitively masterpost
Facing fears and restrictions
Dont compare your eating to anyone elses
Eating more than others
Metabolism and calories in recovery
Facing fears and restrictions
Eating normal foods
Disordered eating times