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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I'm a 23 year old female who's ALWAYS hungry! Help?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (2532 points ) October 26th, 2012

When I was really young I had Fifths Disease and my weight plummeted at an alarming weight. Food tasted terrible and my appetite was zero. My mom couldn’t even get me to try my 5th birthday cake…

As I turned about 7 or 8 my appetite came back and the so did the pounds, admittedly a few too many.

Since then I’ve had an almost astonishing appetite. I try to eat healthy balanced meals with protein, veggies, grains and I’m always starving. I’m 6ft tall and the most I’ve weighed is 210lbs, which was clearly overweight despite my height.

I’ve lost 40lbs and kept it off in the past few years and now weigh about 160–170 depending on the season. However, I do notice that lately I’m hungrier than usual and am worried about the consequences of this. I’ve recently taken a job in Eastern Euro and I think the stress is exacerbating this. I can out-eat almost any female I know and go back for seconds if I choose. (No I don’t necessarily but I’m just ALWAYS hungry)

This is freaking me out a bit, I’ve joined a gym to try to keep from gaining back the weight but I’m having a hard time balancing it with my life.

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36 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

Do you possibly have Sensory Perception Disorder ?
I have heard of kids that have fifths also commonly have SPD. SPD many to either have zero hunger cues or an abundance of hunger cues or a mix of both in adulthood.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@SpatzieLover I don’t think so. If I do, it hasn’t been enough to interfere with my adult life. I managed to be attentive and process information well enough to graduate from college and start a career in my field. When I was younger, my teachers tried to diagnose me with a myriad of learning problems but I’ve come to realize that they were either too lazy or too ignorant to deal with various types of creative kids.

Unbroken's avatar

Is there a food you crave or like especially? It could be your missing a nutrient in your diet that you are trying to fill or you could be chronically dehydrated.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@rosehips I’m a carb addict. Probably because of the endorphin/pleasure rush they give me. I don’t think I need more of them though. ;) I am probably dehydrated though…

hearkat's avatar

It sounds like your current weight is pretty healthy for your height. Working out will result in losing fat, but building muscle, so don’t go by the scale during the process – instead, use the fit of your clothes as a measure of your fitness progress.

The lifestyle in Europe is different, and people do a lot more walking there, which is one of the many reasons they tend to be more slender than Americans. So working out now – especially doing cardio, will benefit your transition to that lifestyle.

I am a believer in listening to our bodies; so if you crave a particular type of food, there may be a nutrient that you are lacking. If you are simply a compulsive overwater, like me (5’6” and over 210 lbs), then it’s a matter of retraining your attitude and habits towards food. I had successfully lost about 40 lbs, a few years ago; but have gained it back by going back to my old habits for various reasons.

I find that I don’t get enough fluids, and I think my body has been interpreting thirst as a craving for sweets, so when my sweet-tooth acts up, I try to drink some water and then maybe just put a stick of gum or a tootsie-roll in my mouth, and hope the craving will pass. I find that if I give a craving a little taste, it will pass with less damage than if I try to deny it completely, and end up binging.

Another thing that might help is to eat smaller but more frequent mini-meals. Make sure you have a breakfast with protein, then a balanced lunch, on the way to the gym, have a pre-workout snack (some carbs for immediate energy and proteins for lasting energy), then a light dinner when you get home from your workout.

Based on your comment about being a carb addict (I was typing while all those other responses were posted), try to increase your proteins and decrease the carbs, as well as minimizing simple, processed carbs for complex, whole-food carbs. It’s pretty well-documented that proteins help level off the blood sugar levels, and stave off hunger for a longer time, and the fibers in complex carbs also help you feel fuller longer.

Unbroken's avatar

An excess of carbs might be a problem esp depending on the type. If you eat them make sure they are complex and try to eat something that will slow digestive process… no crashing. With it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Carb over consumption can be due to low Serotonin levels. If it were me, I’d have a doc run a test.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

Well, if you are dehydrated as you suggest, then you could drink extra water in place of the carbs. I always drink coffee :\ when I’m hungry it fills the spot.

The other thing is get your thyroid checked. I have a thyroid problem so does my mom so does my bff and her mom, between the 4 of us our weight has gained and dropped constantly.

It sounds like tho that maybe you are addicted to the rush of the carbs and the quick satisfaction they give you. This is normal, you just have to resist it somehow. Find something else.

Sounds like you’ve done well so far. I’d kill to be 6ft & 160–170. I need stretch torture to get there, hell I’ll take the carbs.

Judi's avatar

If you think it might be stress related you might try yoga. I find that when I go through those famished phases I can control it better when I do yoga. It reduces stress and makes me more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.
Also, as much as possible, if you must binge, try to limit it to fruits and vegetables. You can still overdo the calories, but you get a lot more volume before you do. Even a baked potato with salsa instead of butter might give you the carb fix without the fat. Eat two if you need to.
I am always jealous of tall people. You get a lot more calories than us shorties do.

GracieT's avatar

If you crave carbs there is another condition you might want to have your gyn look for. There is a condition called PCOS. It’s something we (females- I have it) can have that causes crave carbs, and have some of many other “wonderful” conditions. Our hormones are not right, and we have other problems. It also manifests in problems with our reproductive systems. It is something that I didn’t know I had until a Gynecologist told me that she saw evidence of it. If I were you, I’d follow @SpatzieLover‘s advice and have a doctor investigate.

Jeruba's avatar

A gym trainer I knew said that if you feel hungry all the time, including right after a meal, it could be that you’re not really hungry but thirsty. Make sure you get enough water. When I was on a weight loss program, the requirement was 64 ounces of water a day—that’s four 16-oz. bottles, which isn’t all that much. Enough to make a difference, though.

orlando's avatar

Try supplementing with or increasing the amount of omega 3 fats—like cod liver oil—you consume. The author of “The Resilient Gardener” had the same problem until she started to incorporate these fats into her diet.

What works for me though is highly digestible carbs such as white rice, bread and potatoes. I can eat trucks of food and if I don’t have these I never feel satiated.

Sunny2's avatar

Some people lack the ability to feel full. There’s a signal the body gives when you’ve had enough and if you lack that signal, you can always eat more. I don’t know more details, just that the condition exists. Drinking more water sounds like a good place to start to me. Drink 12 oz of water before you start eating anything.

Unbroken's avatar

Consider googling carb addiction. It isn’t a traditional addiction but it an increasing problem. There are many helpful sites, books and various resources on the topic. I canmt advocate one over another maybe that will give you a starting point though to understanding your cravings and how to curb them.

JLeslie's avatar

How old are you?

Are you having trouble sleeping, or not sleeping many hours? Skin very dry? Hair? Eyes?

Is your whole family tall? Or, are you unusually tall for your family?

Being 6ft it is not very surprising you eat more than the average woman, but you should be able to feel satiated.

JLeslie's avatar

Oops, I just realized you said you are 23.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Wow, so many helpful responses. Thanks everyone and keep them coming if you have more advice. :D

@hearkat I’ve been here a month and do notice that all the women are quite slender. I’m living in the Baltics and sometimes I feel larger because of my wide hips and “ghetto booty”. (I tend to accumulate my fat there) But then again, I try to keep in mind that this place is a little genetically homogenous and Eastern European women tend to have naturally narrow hips so some of it is heredity. The food here is (supposedly) healthier than the US but sometimes it’s hard not to get a little indulgent. Hearty breads, meats, and potatoes are staples of the Lithuanian diet especially now that winter is fast approaching. I try to make up for it by walking but I find that I’m so hungry lately – always thinking about food, talking about food and planning my next meal… I feel disgusting and gluttonous sometimes but I was also raised in an Italian household where food was very important. I wish I could just embrace it some more and not worry so much about my looks but I don’t know if I’m that “big” of a person yet.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@SpatzieLover That’s interesting actually. Maybe I can find a natural supplement to help me if that’s the case?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Judi My Dr. told me that I can eat up to 2,500 cals a day if I want to just maintain my current weight. I guess it sounded like a lot to me but I know how easy it is to go over. I heard somewhere that many Americans consume 4,000 or more calories a day but I don’t remember where… Anyway, I guess I just have to make those calories count!

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@GracieT I’m already getting checked for PCOS this when I visit the states this December. I’ve actually been suspicious that I have it for a while now because I have one or two other symptoms (increase in body and facial hair + they found cysts on my ovaries in the ER a year and ½ ago) However, despite my concerns: my weight is still under control, I don’t have excessive acne and my periods are regular so I’m hoping the hairiness is just because I’m Italian/German. :-x

Anyway, if I do have it, how do you manage yours?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@orlando I will try that too. Thanks!

JLeslie's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace Do you have an irregular cycle? If you have PCOS there is evidence that supports there can be underlying sugar problem. Taking diebetic drugs like glucophage is given to fertility patients so they start cycling again. It is advised for PCOS patients to have a more diabetic oriented diet. Less sugar, all types, sugar, fruit juices, pasta, everything that has easy to break diwn sugars and carbs should be limited.

2500 calories for a young women who gets reasonable exercise at your height sounds about right, might be a little low, it really depends on your level of exercise.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Sunny2 I can feel full but usually it’s not very long until I’m hungry even after a generously portioned well-balanced meal.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I just reread your periods are normal, it isn’t very likely you are PCOS.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@JLeslie My periods are really regular but I have been getting more hair on my abdomen, chin and bikini line lately, and the occasional stiff nipple hair too.I’m constantly plucking and shaving everywhere! :( No acne or excessive belly fat though.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe your testosterone is just a little high. Or, like you said, genetics. It won’t hurt to rule PCOS out, I am not trying to talk you out of ruling it out, or in, whatever the case might be.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@rosehips I’m definitely a carb addict. I always crave them…

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@JLeslie You’re probably right. Do they have any good methods for regulating testosterone in the female body now?

JLeslie's avatar

What about my other questions. Do you have trouble sleeping? Only need a few hours sleep?

I know very little about testosterone, I wish I knew some info for you.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t have trouble sleeping but I do stay up excessively late most night. I guess I get about 5–6 hours on average. My skin is pretty dry but so is the Lithuanian air so I’m trying to manage it b marinating myself in lotion. :-p

I’m actually about average height for my family. My mom is 5’9–5’10 my Dad is 6’5 and my little brother is 6’8!

JLeslie's avatar

I think you possibly could have Graves disease (hyperactive thryoid). That is a simple blood test to rule out that even your GP should be able to order. In America they would typically test:

TSH
T3
T4 free

If they only test one thing it would be your TSH (thyroid stimunlating hormone) but it is better if they do a more complete panel. The tests are very inexpensive in America, I assume they are inexpensive there too. Or, if it is socialized medicine it should be no big deal to have the tests done since it is an inexpensive test. If you have it, probably it is a mild case, but it would explain being ravenous and very dry and only needing 6 hours sleep.

Judi's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace , it’s about 10 calories per pound for women without taking physical activity into account. I would have to be working out all day to get 2500, but I’m only 5’4”

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@Judi Most people can easily (okay maybe not easily) survive on about 1200 a day and I would probably be a little less bootylicious if I cut back. But my doctor said that if I want to maintain my current weight I can eat up to about 2,500 so that must be about what I eat on average?

Judi's avatar

I don’t know3? do you weigh 250 lbs? Or, do you exercise a lot? I don’t always trust doctors when it comes to this stuff. Last I heard they are not required to take any nutrition classes to get through medical school.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I’m 6ft tall, weigh about 160–170lbs and am moderate active.

JLeslie's avatar

Are you counting calories? Do you know how many you actually eat? When I was your age I could eat around 2,000 a day and stayed at 125 pounds. So, 2,500 doesn’t sounds off to me. Now 2,000 calories would probably keep me around 135–140.

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