What is your relationship with food? Know about your hunger and satiety hormones

A very poignant question for foodies..

Have you ever given a thought on the factors that make you eat apart from hunger?

understanding hunger pattern

And have you understood your hunger ?

These are two vital questions you need to make to yourself in order to understand whether food is your pet peeve or a nourishing-healing agent. Many of us just keep cribbing about feeling hungry all the time, cursing the food on why it is piling on fat in the subcutaneous layers and hating our own body for not looking the way we want it to.

I am writing about a few observations I have had with the kind of people I see around and work with. All the people whose weight is in 3 digits (yes) feel more and more hungry all the time and need a lot of food to be consumed. When they are advised to eat a measured portion they think it is like a dose of medicine and not food. Yes it's true.

We all have our neurotransmitters and hormones Ghrelin (hunger hormone) and leptin (satiety hormone) who tell our brain (hypothalamus) about satiety when we have had food. It appears that the hunger hormone Ghrelin would be the one that controls eating behavior but it is the other way round. It is the functioning of the satiety hormone (leptin) being lax that caused eating disorders. Even if Leptin is there in enormous amounts, the system stops responding to higher levels of leptin and doesn't feel sated.

Why the satiety signal is not working any more for such people? Has it something to do with fat storage itself? Think about it. The fat cells really have a brain of their own, I mean they are capable to induce the secretion of hormones (Estrogen is well documented) and make the hormone cascade flow in a different way. Estrogen affecting the fat storage and getting affected by the fat cells themselves is another topic by itself, though related to hormone profile as a whole and to fat loss journey too.

The satiety hormone leptin gets confused for fat people that is something we all need to note. As we all are potential costumers to leptin resistance if we are surrounded by visually appealing food and overly yummy recipes all the time. Food industry shouting into our senses. Do we have an escape?

More important is to understand how do we get entangled into this spiderweb?

It starts when someone starts eating good food. As simple as that. We Start really early in life. Don't we?
And when someone starts enjoying good food. As innocent as that.

Being surrounded with good food all the time and no other reason to be happy other than food leads to eating mindlessly. The good taste becomes a drug in the initial stages and we succumb to a dollop of ice cream or a wedge of cheesecake here and there through the day. If not such things which need to be served in a plate or bowl we start eating cookies straight out of the jar. The Indian namkeens are a gigantic culprit too.

Eating sugary food frequently or simple carbs as a staple makes you Insulin resistant and eating just anything all the time without a feeling of hunger makes you Leptin resistant. Leptin is the hormone which gives your brain the satiety signal but when you keep on piling food on your system the brain stops listening to Leptin ultimately and keeps demanding food all the time. See how neurobiology plays a role in eating patterns ...

Note that these hormones that we call Insulin and Leptin have the capability to screw up the rest of your endocrine system and you can end up with Hypothyroid function or PCOD. Even flared symptoms of Choronic pain and Fibromyalgia. All this when there is loads of food that has potentially healing properties.

Have you ever wondered the food can be therapeutic?

Wouldn't it be a free life when you are not thinking about food all the time and still enjoying what you eat when you do? Choosing the food in it's natural form and cooking it to just make the natural elements shine is the best way to prepare meals for yourself. It's not rocket science and this blog has been talking about the same for a very long time.

Healthy, therapeutic food is the way of life. Also, there should be a discipline in eating patterns too. Food should not be a bait to feel cheerful at any given time, rather it should have the capability to keep you cheerful all through the day. Wouldn't it be practical to have something for breakfast that keeps you full of good cheer and energy through the day rather than grabbing a bowl of overly processed breakfast cereal that makes you hungry after a couple of hours and makes you feel like a bundle of nerves soon after.

I was talking about giving hunger a chance too. Your body would know real hunger from the cravings which are a work of the crazy Insulin. And you would get real satiety after eating your yummy meal and the Leptin would send in the real signals. Rewiring the hormones is not that tough if you just discipline your eating patterns.

There is a little magic there which happens when you practice some hunger. Our body is designed to secrete hormones for healing and recuperating when we are in physical stress. As in when we workout, exhaust our muscles and lungs and when we feel hungry. In short, when we challenge our body. These kinds of physical stress make the body secrete the restorative hormones, initiated by Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This restorative, revitalising hormone makes our body full of vitality. Now you know how the people who are into adventure sports feel and look so young.

Practicing real hunger could be your passport to heal your body, rewire your endocrine system and bring some real good cheer in life. Exercising well would be an additional benefit for sure.

Just wait till you feel hungry, and then wait a little more a few times a week may be, so the body knows what it is. It would help you a lot in disciplining your eating patterns. Your relationship with food will be a lot better.

Edited to add : Pleased to inform my readers that this post has been selected by Blogadda for Spicy Saturdays. This is their way to appreciate good posts by Indian bloggers. I am glad this kind of posts are being appreciated. Knowledge and awareness need to spread. Isn't it?


  1. Thats a really nice Article Sangeeta. Would you believe, I left my bowl of creals after reading this :D.. Although am a health freak myself, knowing all this definetely helps in streamlining the habits.

    thumbs up for this !

    1. Glad you liked it Nupur. I don't want anyone to give up eating :D, just feel the hunger, would help listen to your body.

  2. In general I used to think I dont think too much about food... just eat and run... but over time with age (i hate to admit it) I actually plan most of the times... If incase I were eating out for 2-3 days I would always resort to a fruit diet or curd rice the day I am at home... or If I know I am going to be eating really spicy/oily stuff... I will actually plan and go for salads/fruits a day earlier ! :P

    But my relationship with food is that of Lust... ! Irresistable ! :D
    Just yesterday we went to a Vastu of a friends house... and they had thin crust pizza slices being served.. and I couldnt help but gobble 20 slices and only had guava juice to company :D :P *shockingno?*

    1. 20 slices is definitely shocking!!!

      But I am glad you are listening to your body most of the times and behaving accordingly. Yes, we all lust for good food many a times, but just imagine if one eats those 20 slices daily...there are people who eat equivalent to this as a routine isn't it?

      So as long as you give in to your lust for food a few times and respect your body and give it the time to heal itself after the shock it's fine. If we start restricting ourselves to tempting taste being served ALL the time, it can lead to a feeling of deprivation. e should know how to strike the balance and you are doing fine I guess.

  3. That's a lot of info, glad am over here for while, looks like what i feel after 7months of yoga is described :), loved you home alone picture posted on June 8th. Thank you so much for visiting me :)

    1. Yes, yoga helps disciplining ourselves. Listening to the body. Glad you liked it SreeBindu :-)

  4. Congratulations on the blogadda pick Sangeeta, and it is well deserved too :)

  5. Good one Sangeeta! Enjoyed the post!

  6. Wow never really thought how important food and understanding your relationship with food and hunger-level is. What you say makes so much sense!

    Thank you for this enlightening post, sangeeta.

  7. interesting post. i see what you're saying.

  8. Excellent post!!!! Very lucid..and helpful,especially for someone like me who is desperately trying to undersatnd one's hunger pattern...Looking fwd to more such thought provoking articles..
    And congratulations on the Blogadda selection..:)

  9. excellent article Sangeeta love it!

    1. Welcome to the blog Harpreet.
      Glad you liked it. :-)

  10. Gr8 article!!! Congratulations for the Blogadda selection..

  11. what an enlightening article Sangeeta. Makes so much sense. we share a very deep relationship with food that stems from our conditioning ( childhood), our genetics,our current environment, and many other factors. To be able to assess this relationship objectively would be very very difficult. But what is not so difficult is to follow a process, set boundaries and set tolerances. If one can do that ( which I am trying) then I think it is possible to form some discipline.

  12. thoughtful post sangeeta ; lapped it up

  13. a very interesting post sangeeta!!

    as someone who was grossly overweight, a fitness freak, an athlete at various times of life....i can relate to this post a lot!!


  14. Very interesting. I enjoyed reading your article so much. We here in the US struggle so much with our relationship to food. For a long time I was afraid of becoming hungry, but now I allow myself to feel hunger several times a week. Yoga has also helped me a lot with my awareness of my unhealthy eating habits. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks Martha.
      Yoga definitely helps in disciplining and listening to the body...

  15. Really an eye opener. most of the times, i gobble food , without acccepting hunger or really understanding if iam hungry or not. i should read this one again and again to get into my mind, the 3 main complaints, which u have mentioned, have come to stay with me. Fibromyalgia in the shoulder region is now manageble post Yoga, but i would say,after a few months of practising, i feel my apetite has increased. Even now, though my stomach is full, i ate an orange jus because, it was so tempting and colourful. How much will fruits and vegs, help in this kind of inbetween un wanted eating? I thank God for i dont get tempted with chocolatee, icecreamy things


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