Hunger Hormones in the world of Mindful Eating

What is the connection between mindful eating and hormones?

Hormones are the body’s messengers that secreted by endocrine glands into the bloodstream that carries them to the organs/tissue where they influence bodily processes. Hormones work best when the body is in a state of balance and harmony.

When women look to balance their hormones, often they are told that to reach such a goal they need to start a strict protocol, restrict certain foods, or engage in a particular diet, such as a ‘hormone reset diet’.  This can often mislead women to think that they cannot incorporate mindful eating and balance hormones. While nutritional interventions can have an impact, the approach such be personalised, functional testing, while including hormone supporting nutrients but also implementing techniques to support the body to be in an optimal state such as counteracting stress and connecting to the body’s innate wisdom, learning to tune in and experiencing the signals your body is telling you.

What is interesting is our primal brain or let us call it our ‘cave woman’ brain. It is more concerned about survival and it is hard wired to source food as it is concerned about perceived starvation. Your brain operates on the information it receives, it does not have the same feeling you have about your body, the food you love or what you are not eating because you are dieting or on a hormone reset diet. Your brain is receiving the signals perceived from its immediate environment. The fight or flight response when experiencing perceived stresses can trigger physiological responses that interfere with our desired state of hormonal balance.

When we start to worry about what we are eating, restricting foods, experiencing changes because of a strict protocol or worried about our health because of test results then we trigger the stress response. The first step here is to empower yourself, understand your biology. Why is your body acting the way it is and under/over producing hormones that may be causing imbalance? What are the stresses that you are experiencing and what can you do to resolve them? Step into your power and trust that your body knows what it needs to do, stop battling with yourself and allowing your inner dialogue to control you.

Let us discuss the biological basis of hunger cues and how mindful eating can help to normalise hunger cues. Why do you feel hungry? The hypothalamus acts as the control centre for hunger and satiety. Hunger signals are information sent to the brain, which is concerned with survival and avoiding starvation.

The two most important hunger hormones are Ghrelin and Leptin, which influence satiety and hunger, play a significant role in body energy balance regulation.

Ghrelin – The appetite stimulator and is produced by the stomach, has a broad range of physiological effects on all body systems and ultimately sends a signal to your brain letting you know that you are hungry. More is produced before eating a meal and decreased levels after meal ingestion. Ghrelin levels reflect nutritional status and bodyfat stores. Ghrelin levels are inversely correlated with the amount of fat stores, being low in obese subjects, higher in lean people.

Leptin – The appetite suppressor, is a hormone synthesized mainly by adipocytes (fat cells) and it inhibits appetite by counteracting the action of neuropeptide Y (NPY) (a neurotransmitter that stimulates food intake). Leptin secretion is proportional to the total amount of adipose tissue, and its serum concentration increases significantly in obesity.

As we take steps to create the terrain in which we thrive physiologically, such as personalised nutrition supporting hormone production and balance, sleep hygiene, stress management, exercise, and spiritual practice, we can then live the principles of eating intuitively.

The practice of Mindful eating Is being guided by the senses, trusting your body and its hunger, accepting what arises in you when you eat and letting go of the past experiences that may hold you back. Acknowledging hungers and identifying the hungers you may be experiencing (eye, touch, nose, ear, mouth, cellular, mind or heart). The principle of Eating mindfully is a practice of paying attention to the food we eat and to eat without judgement or fear. It means tuning into to the body’s cues such as hunger, and satiety, listening to external cues when to eat, having more self-compassion reducing guilt and shame around eating food. Stepping into our true biological power, tuning into our innate wisdom, and hearing what our body is signalling.

Ways to practice mindful eating is to truly eat only when your body is signalling you to eat. Understand how a hormone imbalance can influence this is crucial to bring the body back into a state where the signals are not false but genuine. When we eat, we therefore know intuitively when to stop, listening to our body and stopping when we are full. Eating foods that are nutritionally healthy will support our wellbeing and awareness that the wholefood we eat will support the production of hormones and keep the body in balance.


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