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Help! Why Am I Always Hungry? Here Are Possible Reasons  

Always feeling hungry? Step away from the doughnut and read this article to find out possible reasons and remedies.

Woman frowns with a confused expression holding a fork in one hand and spoon in the other hand close to her face.

You had nasi lemak and roti canai for breakfast, then a bowl of mee kari for lunch. It’s 1pm and you find yourself digging for snacks in your office drawer. “Why am I always hungry?” you ask yourself. 

This sudden increase in appetite may be a sign something’s not quite right inside. Read this article to find out possible reasons and how to deal with your excessive hunger. 

Possible Reasons You’re Always Hungry 

A constant feeling of hunger despite eating could be a sign of an imbalance or even some rare health conditions. Here are some possibilities. 

Not getting enough nutrients 

When you’re not getting enough of certain nutrients, your body tells you that by feeling hungry. For example: 

  • Eating too much of one macronutrient and/or too little of another 
  • Starting a new exercise routine but not eating enough to match the energy expenditure 
  • Not eating enough fibre 
  • Not drinking enough water 

Impaired hunger signalling  

Poor lifestyle habits can mess with your brain and hormones: 

  • You feel hungry when you’re feeling stressed or sad because you associate eating with emotional soothing 
  • Your brain doesn’t register that you’re eating because you’re also doing other things at the same time 
  • Insufficient or poor sleep upregulates ghrelin, the hunger hormone 

Diabetes or other hormone-related conditions  

Extreme hunger, also known as polyphagia, is a common symptom of untreated diabetes. Your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t know how to use it. Unable to access the sugar in your blood, you constantly feel hungry. 

Other causes of polyphagia include: 

  • Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid gland releases too much thyroid hormone which causes the body to use up energy too quickly. 
  • Insulinoma: A rare tumour in the pancreas that causes it to release too much insulin. 
Woman falls asleep with the TV remote on her belly, next to a table filled with pizza, chips, and a soft drink.
Lack of sleep interferes with proper hunger signalling, causing you to always feel hungry.

Excessive heat and yin deficiency syndromes 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also recognises this state of excessive hunger. 

“In TCM, this state is known as “善食易饥” (shan shi yi ji or “fast digestion with rapid hunger”), which can also be understood as increased food intake and a tendency to get hungry easily. Often, they are accompanied by other symptoms, such as dry stools, constipation, dry throat, or even bleeding gums.” 

Eu Yan Sang Physician Peh Weh Jie

Two syndromes that are often the culprit include: 

Stomach Heat or Fire 

Excessive Heat dries up body fluids and disturbs normal descending stomach qi (vital life force).

Causes: 

  • Excessive intake of spicy and greasy foods, alcohol, and tobacco. 
  • Excessive anger, frustration, and resentment  

Accompanying symptoms: Thirst, dry mouth, dry stools, nausea, and vomiting. 

Stomach Yin Deficiency 

Deficient yin (cool, passive energy) causes Dryness and excessive Heat in the body.

Causes:  

  • Prolonged poor eating habits 
  • Excessive intake of spicy and sour foods  
  • Prolonged periods of taking drugs 
  • Chronic digestive issues 
  • Pre-existing weak constitution 

Accompanying symptoms: Bleeding gums and constipation

Lifestyle Changes and Therapies to Cope With Excessive Hunger 

Your body is smart. If you give it the right cues by proper fuelling and habits, it will respond accordingly: 

  • Establish and maintain a balanced diet that matches your activity level and nutrition needs. 
  • Practise mindful eating and proper sleep hygiene to get your body back into a state of balance.  

TCM also offers some remedies that you can try: 

Herbal therapy

Chinese medicine physician stands behind a counter with herbs, lab equipment, and acupuncture models.
TCM rebalances your body through herbs and acupuncture to help correct excessive hunger.

Certain herbs can help your body dispel Excess Heat, correct a stomach qi imbalance, or replenish your yin. Work with a TCM physician to determine which of these herbs or formulas can work for you: 

  • Rhizoma coptidis (huang lian, 黄连)  
  • Formulas such as Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang (调胃承气汤), Qing Wei San (清胃散), and Mai Men Dong Tang (麦门冬汤) 

Acupressure therapy 

Certain acupoints along the stomach and Spleen channels can curb appetites or aid digestion when stimulated. Acupressure, or better yet acupuncture, can aid the release of toxins, Excess Heat, and Stagnation from the body.

These points include

  • Li dui (ST45, 历兑) 
  • Qu chi (LI11, 曲池) 
  • Nei ting (ST44, 内庭) 
  • Lao gong (PC8, 劳宫) 

Fortunately, always feeling hungry is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Now you have information to help you fix this issue. 

Which of the reasons above could be causing your sudden increased appetite? Discuss it with your doctor and feel better soon!

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2023. Polyphagia (Hyperphagia). [online] [Accessed 15 February 2023]  
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. 8 Reasons You’re Always Hungry. [online] [Accessed 15 February 2023] 
  3. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2017. Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Obesity: An Overview of Scientific Evidence from 2007 to 2017 [online] [Accessed 15 February 2023] 
  4. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2021. Mechanism of Action of Acupuncture in Obesity: A Perspective From the Hypothalamus. [Accessed 15 February 2023] 

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