Trust us, you’re not really hungry. (Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)
| 4 min read

Don’t Believe That Hunger Pang! 6 Food Habits That Are Fooling You

What if I told you that what you’re eating is making you even hungrier? And that the food you are plating is actually emptying your stomach – even though you think are filling it up…

You’re only human, so find out if you’re making any of these common food mistakes:

It’s evening and you down a glass of juice to ward off hunger till dinner time. Instead you begin to feel ravenous soon…

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That’s because juices are devoid of fibre from the fruit but have the carbs (sugar) which can make your blood sugar levels shoot up – only to bring it down again super fast as the insulin hormone begins its work (thus giving you hard-to-control hunger). A smoothie is a better bet as it has a protein source (milk or yoghurt) and fruit with the fibre (pear or apple or banana).

You just finished polishing off a bag of salty chips. And now you’re suddenly craving something sweet…

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This happens because too much salt spurs dehydration – symptoms of which mimic hunger and make you reach out for more food (whereas your body is simply demanding some water).

Plus, most salty snacks tend to be made of refined grains which spur insulin highs and subsequent lows – and as our brain associates this roller coaster with sugary food, it suddenly craves some.

Finally, these salty snacks tend to be high in trans fats (ditto for fried foods like pakoras) that flame the gut and thus impairs our body’s ability to produce appetite-controlling neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. This leads to hunger that simply does not satiate.

The day you down a couple of beers (or a few vodkas), you end up eating a huge dinner…

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There’s research that explains this: Just 3 small drinks can depress the levels of hormone leptin in the body by 30% and as this hormone is needed to tell the brain that you are full, you end up eating more than you should.

Secondly, alcohol also dehydrates the body and leads to loss of electrolytes, which again mimics huger.

Finally, there’s a really simple explanation – alcohol impairs your judgement about how much you want to/should eat and you don’t know when to stop.

(Ever noticed how loaded the plates of those who are drunk are? Now you know why!)

When you go out for Chinese cuisine you end up eating more…

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Well, that could be because of mono sodium glutamate (MSG) present in most of the dishes. According to research, MSG is associated with increased risk of gaining weight as it affects leptin concentration too.

Some herbs and spices are also known to stimulate appetite – mustard, turmeric and ginger increase the flow of saliva and digestive juices. But as they are all supremely healthy, don’t let this scare you off.

Diet soda is a BIG weight gain culprit… (Yes!)

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Actually, this is true for most diet foods stuffed with artificial sweeteners. Even though you manage to cut off the calories (found in sugar) by substituting with these nil cal sweeteners, the net result is negative as these mimic sugar in the body, leading to insulin spikes and crash. This triggers the want for more food (make that LOTS more food).

You always end up eating more at the buffet…

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That’s because the visual appeal is such that you end up eating too fast and downing a huge variety too (a bit of this, a bit of that... you get the picture).

Plus, very ‘appealing-looking’ food triggers insulin secretion in the body that makes us think we’re hungrier than we actually are (think of how the mouth begins to water after looking at the buffet spread).

At a buffet it is best to stick to a few kind of foods – so choose what you like most and have just that. For example, have fish and rice, not fish and rice and chicken and prawns and kali dal and a bit of lamb too…

Don’t confuse the taste buds and the body.

(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People.)