Heartbreak, stress, hormones, the weather, medicine you might be taking, even how hard your workout was during the day, all of these things can actually affect your appetite for food.
Feeling blue? Often it seems that a bad breakup can send you straight to the Ben & Jerry’s cooler in your grocery store, and then right back home to find a big spoon. Or perhaps it is the opposite? You find that you have had your heart broken and you just cannot eat?
You are not alone, and you are not crazy. In fact, heartbreak actually does affect your appetite. The mind and body are connected. If one suffers, they both suffer. If you are one that cannot eat when faced with a breakup, or any other sadness you may be facing, it is because your body feels as if it is in physical pain, and the idea of eating actually makes your body feel sick.
It will pass, though, and once you have completely grieved for that relationship, or gotten past whatever hurt or sadness you are facing, your body will feel healed, and will want to eat again.
If you find yourself eating in excess due to heartbreak, you are, in fact, using food as a crutch. You focus on food (food that make you ‘feel’ good) rather than your present situation, which is why that pint of ice cream seems to be your best friend at the moment. Again, this increased appetite will pass once you have gone through the grieving process. See also: How to break the association between food and emotions.
While some might tell you it is a myth that increased activity equals an increased appetite, they are wrong. In fact, science backs up these claims. The more energy your body exerts during physical activity, the more calories you burn. If you burn enough calories, you body can go into calorie deficit, and your body will want to, it will need to, take in calories to make up for that.
Think of it this way: If you do, say, a weightlifting workout, working your muscles, you want them to grow. If you do not feed the body after a workout, the body will actually feed on stored protein, in other words, you muscle tissue. This means that all the hard work you just did in the gym? It was nearly for nothing, as you are pretty much destroying the muscle you just tried to build.
Additionally, the more muscle your body has, the higher your metabolism. This means your body burns more calories all day long. If the calories are not readily available, again, it will break down that muscle tissue, and your metabolism will suffer.
So, an increased appetite after tough exercise is normal. Make sure to feed the body properly in order to see the results you want.
Like it or not, hormones do increase the appetite, especially in women. Once a month, hormone fluctuations can do crazy things to a woman’s body, including make her crave different foods.
A number of scientific studies have shown that premenstrual women actually crave carbohydrates during that time. Increase in both appetite and cravings occur during this phase.
Other hormones, called ‘hunger hormones’ are present in both men and women and are the ones that let us know we are either hungry or full. Stress can increase these hormones exponentially, which is why we often eat when we are stressed. To be more specific, the hormone cortisol is produced when we get stressed, and this can cause overeating. See also: Why do I always feel hungry?
Ghrelin is the most prevalent ‘hunger hormone’ in the body, and it is the one that makes your stomach growl. Unfortunately, it is not always a great indicator of hunger, as it sometimes will act up after a high protein meal, making you feel like you need a sugary snack or dessert.
If you live in a cold weather environment, you are probably prone to cravings during the winter months. Your body wants to hibernate, and you feel that you need to ingest high calorie items. Why? Because your body actually does feel the need to get warmer, and calories are energy units, they keep the body warmer.
Your body actually processes food faster when it is cold out, and that increases the appetite because the stomach empties out quicker than it would on a summer day.
And finally, some medications can affect the appetite. Typically this is a side effect, listed in the small print of drugs, and not one that doctors mentioned, as it is not considered to be life threatening.
In fact, things like birth control pills (ones that control your hormones) can really increase the appetite.
If you notice that you are eating more (or, the opposite, if you find yourself without an appetite) after taking a new medication, either contact your doctor or read the small print included with the medication. Chances are, this is a side effect of the drug, and it is one that tends to pass quickly as your body gets used to the drug.