Am I hungry or am I thirsty? That’s the question I have started asking myself when I get hunger pangs. This has happened to me quite often when i have just had a meal and I feel hungry within an hour. One day, I decided to conduct an experiment on myself wherein I just placed a glass of water and a bowl of almonds in front of me on my work desk and continued working. I had just finished my meal and was waiting for the hunger pang to hit me. There I got the pang and before I reached out for the bowl of almonds, I grabbed the glass of water and gulped it down. Thereafter, I did not feel the need to eat the almonds.
What exactly happened? Let’s get into the science behind it. There’s a small little part in our brain called hypothalamus which controls hunger, thirst and many other bodily functions and behaviours. Because hunger and thirst are controlled by the same area of the brain, it so happens that thirst produces similar reaction in our body, as hunger does. Like for instance, we get those grumbling and growling noises in the stomach or may start feeling dizzy or low on energy. In all probability when we get the hunger feeling, we may not necessarily be hungry at all but that we’re actually thirsty! In fact, research shows that about 40% of people, mistake thirst with hunger.
This confusion causes many people to over eat and thus put on those extra kilos. Therefore, it’s very essential to react wisely to save yourself from the extra load of calories. The best way to clear the confusion is, when you feel the hunger pangs creeping in an hour after a meal, rather than breaking into some snacks, drink a glass of water and hold on for 15 minutes as it might take that much time for the hypothalamus to send a signal to let the nervous system know that the body was just thirsty and that the thirst has been quenched. You will then not feel the need to eat and the growling and grumbling noises or the feeling of dizziness and weakness will be totally shooed away. In this way, you can also cut down on unwanted food intake/or unnecessary snacking which then gets stored as fat. But, if after 15 minutes you still feel hungry, then you ought to eat as you may be actually hungry.
Another interesting trick is that if you stay hydrated through the day, you won’t even get trapped in this cue-confusion dilemma. Because you know you have already satiated your thirst and thus you can be sure that the signals that you are getting are surely for hunger.
I would say, you must try both the experiments and check which one works the best for you. You see it’s absolutely essential to differentiate between the two before we fall prey to over eating and weight gain.