Are you feeling hungry all the time in lockdown? You’re not alone

Are you feeling hungry all the time? When you’re working, when you wake up and especially before you go to bed? If you’re raiding your fridge for comfort food and finding yourself craving sweet treats and pizza more than you ever have before, you can blame all the lockdown related lifestyle changes you’re dealing with.

Hunger is a feeling triggered when there is lower concentration of glucose, amino acids or fatty acids in our body, explains Dr Manoj Kutteri, wellness director, Atmantan Wellness Resort. He adds, “These are recognised by the brain and induce hunger pangs that makes us want to eat. It is controlled by neurotransmitters like ghrelin and leptin. When there is lower glucose concentration in the body, the brain also signals a slow release of insulin that can also contribute to feelings of hunger.” But stress, lack of sleep and a different diet can throw a wrench in this cycle. We spoke to the pros about lockdown related eating and quizzed them for their take.

You’re feeling stressed out

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed given the current climate. If you’ve gone down a spiral, resorting to a pack of chips can be an easy escape. “In a stressful situation, you may not be expending the energy physically, but cellularly and emotionally, you are spending massive amounts of energy. And this mental or emotional energy which is sapped, needs to be replenished, and that’s why the body reaches out for something that’s nourishing and rich. In a balanced state of mind, a bowl of lentils can also satiate us, but in in a stressful state we will look out for feel-good, calorie-dense food which releases instant energy such as pastries, chocolates and pizzas,” says Dr Shailendra Chaubey, medical director at Vedary, a Mumbai-based holistic healing centre.

Delhi-based Nutrition Nmami Agarwal agrees. “Stress releases a hormone known as cortisol in the body, which increases your feeling of hunger. Various studies indicate that stress triggers the emotional brain networks and enhance the secretion of two hormones in the body known as glucocorticoids and insulin.”

You’re bored

Not ‘doing’ much can actually leave you feeling hungrier than ever. “We’re all so used to having activities on our plate. Now we’re doing less while in lockdown, there are less activities that are gratifying or exciting. So we look at food to fill that void,” says Dr Chaubey.

Agarwal points out how our trips to kitchen have become more frequent and opening fridge door becomes a gateway to instant gratification. “Eating when feeling bored serves as a coping mechanism. When dopamine is produced, it helps us feel accomplished and is the brain’s “desire” centre. Eating affects an individual’s levels of dopamine—a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a major role in reward-motivated behaviour. Snacking helps break the monotony of our boredom, raising our levels of dopamine. In simpler words, we will continuously snack because it makes us feel temporarily excited again and this becomes a cycle,” she explains.

You’re thirsty

At your office desk or in your regular routine, drinking water might be a part of your day. But when you’re home, and there’s no glass near you, it’s easy to forget. “Sometimes, dehydration leads your brain to think that you want to eat. Whenever you feel the need to eat after some time of your meal, drink a glass full of water. Consume at least 2.5-3 litres of water in a day,” says Agarwal.

You’re actually sleepy

“Sleep rhythm is very important to keep the hunger hormones balanced,” says Dr Kutteri. Altered sleep (like if you’re sleeping at 4am and waking up at 2pm) can change the production levels of these hormones. Sleep deprivation increases production of ghrelin but reduces production of leptin, so your satiety levels are out of whack too. “Lack of sleep increases the thermogenesis in the body which demands more food,” he says.

You’re relying on packaged foods

Lockdown has many of us reaching out for frozen and processed food to bring convenience to our meal times. But they come at a cost. “These have good amounts of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, fat, sugar and are highly processed, which are empty calories, which means they don’t provide any nutrients and make you feel hungrier later. Hunger is body’s way of telling that it needs food and while ultra-processed foods may make you feel full for a moment and provide you instant energy but will leave you craving for more,” states Agarwal.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *