Just because you’re hungry doesn’t mean your body needs those calories. These medical conditions explain why you’re hungry all the time.
Eating can be a coping mechanism for people with depression or anxiety. Part of this might be because they don’t have enough of feel-good hormone serotonin, and eating comfort foods like pasta and bread can bring those levels up, says Holly Lofton, MD, weight management specialist and director of the medical weight management program at NYU Langone Medical Center. “You’re not treating depression with celery,” she says. “It’s whatever your mom gave you to feel good.”
During fight or flight mode, the stress hormone cortisol floods your body, which convinces your body to eat, even if you don’t physically need the calories, says Shanna Levine, MD, clinical educator at Mount Sinai School Medicine. “It’s not out of necessity, but cortisol tells your brain you’re not full,” she says. “That’s why stress causes people to overeat.” These are the best foods to eat when you’re stressed.
If you’re hungry all the time and eating more than usual but are somehow still dropping pounds, your thyroid could be overproducing hormones, triggering your body to kick things up. “Think of the thyroid as an endocrine hormonal organ that speeds everything in the body up,” says Dr. Lofton. “So you would also speed up metabolically, and increase their hunger as a result.” The thyroid is also involved in satiety, so you might find your cravings harder to satisfy if it’s overactive, says Dr. Levine. See if your hunger is paired with fatigue, moodiness, brittle nails, or hair loss—they’re all signs of hyperthyroidism.
Overeating can lead to weight gain, but in a vicious cycle, obesity itself can also make you hungry all the time. Excess fat could cause your insulin levels to skyrocket, making your appetite go up in response, says Dr. Lofton. Plus, fat cells make your body less sensitive to the satiety hormone, leptin, says Dr. Levine. “Because fat produces its own hormones, part of obesity is that people tend to feel more hungry than someone with higher metabolism and in better shape,” she says. Look out for these other sneaky things could affect your weight, regardless of diet and exercise.