Respect for hunger and satiety

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Naturally, the body would be able to self-regulate, and thus allow us to achieve and maintain a satisfactory weight. Yes, but here it is… “Natural” is no longer so relevant in our societies: overabundance of food, overloaded schedules, dictates of thinness, food industrialization and its share of preservatives and endocrine disruptors… In this tumult of new information, the body’s natural self-regulation struggles to be 100% effective and efficient. This means in particular that it can be difficult to connect to the sensations of hunger and satiety, the keystones of recognizing the needs of your body, and guaranteeing a stable weight.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Hunger mechanism

When the digestive process is finished (which depends on the volume and composition of the meal), this means that the intestines and stomach are empty, gastric and intestinal contractions then occur, causing sound and sensory gurgling which signals the need for food. A hormone at the origin of this phenomenon: ghrelin, or hunger hormone.

It is important to feel hunger, because it notably manifests a decrease in the availability of sugar essential for the brain and energy. And it’s also important to listen to it at the right time because if you don’t listen to hunger, then it will come back a little later…

It’s the syndrome of business people who eat little or nothing at lunch, filled with adrenaline and too preoccupied with their task to listen to their body, and who the ghrelin catches up a little later, for example around 7 p.m. in front of cheese, cold meats or biscuits…

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How to regulate ghrelin levels

This indeed leaves one wondering… Here are some common sense tips for listening to yourself and letting this hormone act in a way that is right for the body:
First of all, balance your meals and particularly your fiber intake, both from fruits and vegetables and from slow sugars like pasta. Thanks to them, you will bring to your stomach an adequate volume to ensure optimal digestion time between two meals, and a quality necessary to “make digestion last”, therefore to delay the next secretion of ghrelin. In the event of excessive food restriction, its secretion will increase in the blood and push you to “crack”.
Furthermore, sufficient sleep allows ghrelin levels to be properly regulated: the less we sleep, the more we eat..

Satiety and satiation

Satiety is defined as the moment when you no longer enjoy eating a food, but you can still be hungry for something else.

As for satiety, it is a state of not hungry. It is thanks to it that we “last” several hours between meals. The two are often confused. However, the first signal that the body receives is often that of satiation. Except that at that point, it is already too late: this indicates that we have already eaten too much. We must therefore reconnect with the good sensations caused by leptin and recognize satiety in time so as not to overeat.

The first tip is to chew: the action of the jaw muscles is essential for leptin secretion to begin. It will then send a signal to the brain to curb appetite and increase energy expenditure. Good chewing also guarantees good transit. Taking your time helps avoid the feeling of an overfull stomach that makes you think you couldn’t swallow another mouthful.

It is just as important to pay attention to your food intake: eat in peace, without distractions such as TV or telephone, computer or work files. When all the senses (sight, hearing in particular) are directed towards the action of eating, the reward circuit is better activated and allows us to better feel satiety.

We find the same idea in the importance of preparing pretty plates, and of cooking, even simply, dishes that will please us tastefully. Sometimes, the simple use of spices, fine herbs, or good quality oils (olive, nuts, rapeseed) can enhance the taste of food and make eating enjoyable. Because if we achieve satiety (not hungry), but we are not satisfied (desire to eat), then we can continue to eat to obtain pleasure. This is what happens after eating a balanced but bland meal and swallowing it quickly: the desire to eat chocolate or another salty or sweet treat to obtain pleasure may persist. Food choice is of course an important factor in complementing this. The proteins contained in meat, fish and eggs are indeed satiating, as are the fibers in starchy foods and fruits and vegetables.

And so…

Optimal weight therefore largely depends on the pleasure we take in eating healthily. A healthy meal composed of good quality foods but without pleasure is not enough to trigger in the body the expected reactions of satiation and satiety which indicate that everything is aligned in the head and in the body.

Many recommendations are made for preparing meals and eating good things with pleasure and in full awareness. A return to essential things is therefore necessary: ​​listening to yourself, taking time for yourself, not feeling guilty.

This may seem difficult in certain circumstances, such as in the case of short lunch breaks, but sometimes simple things are enough to brighten up a simple homemade sandwich or pleasantly compose a “bowl” to eat cold. Industrial dishes, often rich in fats and sugar, rarely offer a good alternative, because although fats and sugars lead to rapid satiation, they are not sufficiently satiating to last several hours before the next meal.