If you need a mid-afternoon snack despite having lunch, or if you are hungry an hour after eating a full dinner, you are probably experiencing abnormal hunger.
I believe that an abnormal sense of hunger is often due to disruptions in our autonomic nervous system. Inflated hunger is a common problem and is not simply a “lack of willpower” issue.
Autonomic problems can be caused by abnormal intestinal bacteria, physical or emotional trauma, or nutritional issues such as an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
The two most common triggers of abnormal hunger I see in my patients are the result of intestinal bacteria overgrowth, which can either slow down the digestive tract or manipulate the brain’s need for more blood flow and oxygen.
The first trigger is activated by bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine that sends a signal through our autonomic nervous system to slow down our intestinal tract. The result of a slower intestinal tract is the collection of stomach acid which we know as that shaky, nauseous, “low blood sugar” feeling that makes us snack all day long to “settle our stomach”.
The second trigger is a different type of manipulation of our autonomic nervous system that decreases blood flow and oxygen up to our brain. This decreased blood and oxygen flow makes us feel hungry, tired, lightheaded, and may negatively affect our concentration or memory.
Brain blood flow and oxygen are improved when we consume salt, sugar, or carbohydrates. This is the reason why many of us feel powerful cravings for cereal or chips only an hour or two after finishing a full meal.
A third trigger is direct damage to our autonomic nervous system from a concussion or an intense emotional experience. Concussions directly damage the autonomic nervous system. We now know intense emotional events such as the death, divorce, or bankruptcy damages the brain as well.
The damage from traumatic events can lead to inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain, triggering the same cravings for salt, sugar and carbohydrates.
If you get hungry right after a full meal, or if you find yourself unable to control your hunger cravings, just be aware you may be suffering from one of these types of autonomic dysfunction.
These problems can be diagnosed with testing by doctors like myself with expertise in autonomic disorders, and we can both treat and reverse them without strenuous exercise, expensive products, or fad diets.
© 2013 Dr. Patrick Nemechek All Rights Reserved