When changing my diet to lose weight, i learn a few things. Mostly by reading and listening to factoids many seem to know. While, some are those kernels of information are completely wrong, brought to many people's mouth by the current day's fad, a good deal are correct, or mostly correct.
Here a few things i think are probably true, at least mostly. Though, i am always learning. Some points are old, some new.
- Thirst is caused by a water deficiency and is quenched only by water.
- Hunger is caused by a nourishment deficiency and is satiated only by carbohydrates.
- Craving is caused by a nutritional deficiency and is satisfied only by filling that deficiency.
- Thirst, hunger, and craving get stronger with time, even if suppressed in the interim.
- Thirst or craving can be mistaken for hunger.
- A physical desire for non-nutritional food starts with either hunger or craving.
- Mental desires for food can be mistaken for physical ones.
- Filled stomachs grows; empty stomachs shrink.
Thirst is caused by a water deficiency and is quenched only by water.
The body requires water for function and maintenance. Most of the body is water. So, when the water levels in a body drop the body sends a message which the brain identifies with thirst. If any other liquid is quaffed, the body will extract the water for its purposes, with the rest going for nutrition or waste.
Salt absorbs water, and thus makes the body thirsty. As such, while the water content in diet colas quench thirst, the sodium content causes more thirst. Further, the non-nutritional chemical gunk uses water to be washed away.
When thirsty for a drink, that is any drink, drinking water will quench the thirst, and the physical desire for that drink will go away.
This should not be confused with the desire for alcohol or a chemical one is addicted to.
Hunger is caused by a nourishment deficiency and is satiated only by carbohydrates.
The body requires energy to function, and it gets this energy by breaking down carbohydrates. So, when ready-energy levels are low, the body sends a message which the brain identifies with hunger. If any other food is consumed, the body will extract the carbohydrates for its purposes, with the rest going for nutrition or waste.
Fat can be converted into carbohydrates. Indeed, the fat stores on the body are used for just that purpose. Fat does not satiate. But it will, with time, subside the hunger.
Satiation itself is caused by carbohydrates reaching the colon, which causes the colon to release an amino acid that causes the brain to feel satiated. This takes approximately twenty to thirty minutes. This is different than the feeling of fullness which is caused when the stomach itself gets full. That can be caused by anything that enters the stomach. Satiation is when there is no longer any desire whatsoever to consume food.
Isulin production by the body causes slight satiation or it subsides the hunger.
Craving is caused by a nutritional deficiency and is satisfied only by filling that deficiency.
The body causes a craving when there is a deficiency is something that it needs. Craving can strike even when not hungry, and filling it can even hurt. It is a very different feeling than hunger, but not always recognized by the uninitiated.
For example, the body requires protein and vitamin B12, both plentiful in beef. If a meat-eater goes exclusively vegetarian, and does not learn how to get protein and B12, he will probably have very strong cravings for beef, which can be satisfied by anything that provides protein and B12.
The body might crave a nutrition without the brain knowing what food provides it. If that is the case, it will be a craving unassociated with any food, and not satisfied by any food until a food the does provide it is eaten. When such a food is eaten, the craving will become associated with that food, which, if the body still requires it, will seem to get stronger as a result of the association, and might be mistaken for enjoying the flavor of the food.
If one feels a craving to snack even after satiation of hunger, it is probably a nutritional deficiency which should be addressed. As no amount of snacking will satisfy the craving unless it (also) provides the nutritional deficiency.
Thirst, hunger, and craving get stronger with time, even if suppressed in the interim.
Thirst can be suppressed with colder temperature, drinking non-water liquids, or via apetite suppression. Hunger can be suppressed by filling the stomach or causing insulin production. All can be usually be ignored by sleeping. These do not quench or satisfy; they merely remove the desire temporarily. The thirst or hunger continue to grow, and will be felt strongly as soon as the suppression subsides.
Thirst or craving can be mistaken for hunger.
Thirst, hunger, and craving all are desires subsided via consumption. Association teaches the brain that no matter which of them is causing the unpleasant feeling, consumption will be required. So, even thirst can be seen as hunger if not thinking. But a moment of thought, or better, a little practice, can help determine the difference.
A physical desire for non-nutritional food starts with either hunger or craving.
Unchecked and untrained, the body will want pleasure. Sugar, and many other foods, can bring pleasure to the person. However, these desires do not cause hunger or cravings. If there is a desire to eat a candy bar, it is because the body requires either the energy or nutrition within it, and wouldn't mind the sugar or chocolate once eating already. If the hunger or craving is satiated or satisfied elsewhere, the physical desire for the candy bar will subside as well.
Excluding chemical dependencies, the body does not desire foods with no nutritional benefit when the body does not need the energy.
Mental desires for food can be mistaken for physical ones.
Many (perhaps most) people associate feelings with food. Comfort foods are eaten when in a good mood to keep the good feeling going. "Bad" foods are sometimes consumed when feeling negative (though, most people do not feel hungry then). Food might be seen as a rewards, due to training by teachers or parents. Food might be eaten eaten only to finish what is on one's plate or the like. None of these have anything to do with thirst, hunger, or cravings. Although, without thinking, one might be confused by it.
Filled stomachs grows; empty stomachs shrink.
If the stomach is filled to capacity, the body will feel full and the stomach will grow. If filled consistently by every meal for a few weeks, it will grow noticeably. Noticeably as the person will eat more by each meal to fill the now-larger stomach cavity.
Conversely, if a stomach is not filled to capacity, it will shrink. If left empty consistently by every meal for a few weeks, it will shrink noticeably. Noticeably as the person will eat less by each meal to mostly fill the now-smaller stomach cavity.
Many diets rely on this fact. They say to wait twenty to thirty minutes after eating a portion before eating another. The idea is to wait until the carbohydrates reach the colon causes satiation, and leave the stomach cavity partially empty. Overall, that is good training.
The main thing i have learnt now is that when i am hungry, i need to ask myself why i am hungry.