Is your food making you hungry?

Are some foods making us even hungrier?

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If you’re struggling to resist second helpings at mealtimes and cannot leave the table without dessert, then it could be that the food you’re eating is making you even hungrier rather than satisfying your hunger pangs. With obesity statistics on the rise, it’s clear we’re eating more than we used to, especially more processed foods. It seems counter-intuitive that with more food, we feel hungrier. Many people are complaining that their appetites are the reasons why they cannot lose weight.

A recent study by Dr David Ludwig, the director of New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Centre, shines light on why we have appetites that feel impossible to satisfy. Published in June in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study measured blood glucose levels and hunger while observing brain activity during the four-hour period after a meal, as this is the time frame that influences eating behaviour at the next meal.

The study fed 12 overweight men test meals of milkshakes with the same calories, taste and sweetness. The only difference was the glycemic index (GI) of the milkshakes; the first had a high-glycemic index value while the other had a low one.

The study found that those consuming the high-GI milkshake experienced a surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp crash four hours later, while those consuming the low-GI milkshake experienced a much more stable blood sugar profile. This sudden increase and subsequent decrease in those taking the high-GI milkshake was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviours.

Ludwig concludes: “These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could help obese individuals reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat.”

We can also include white rice and pasta in this group of high-GI foods along with cakes, cookies and pastries.

If you’re struggling to curb your appetite and want to feel a little lighter, then cutting these foods from your diet will not only help your waistline, it will also help you to avoid overeating. In the long run, this will mean your efforts will be rewarded as you feel you find it increasingly easier to eat healthy foods and enjoy their benefits.

Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to