Have you had the experience where you were not overly hungry until you had a handful of chips or a banana, then found yourself ravenous?
Well, you can actually make your brain and gut “hungry” simply by taking a few bites of food by “activating” parts of your biology that drives your hunger for more, says Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist and researcher at Harvard Medical School.
“The sight, smell, or taste of some food will trigger the cephalic food response,” she explains, referring to the biological processes triggered in your gut when it thinks more food is coming. In the same way, by swallowing a few bites of food you can make your brain want to consume more in order to repeat or sustain the reward sensation.
Potato Chips, Crackers, And Bread
Potato chips contain high levels of fat, sodium and calories, which are not good for your heart. They also contain trans fats, which can increase bad cholesterol levels in your body and increase your risk of heart disease. To avoid these problems, try eating only a few small servings of potato chips each day instead of munching on them continuously throughout the day.
When you eat refined carbs your blood sugar levels shoot up. “The body’s reaction to this is to release a large amount of insulin to normalize blood sugar,” Lennerz says. This is an issue because Insulin shuttles that blood sugar into “storage,” says Dr. David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at Harvard. Since that energy has now been locked away, your hunger for food screams back with a vengeance. (See: Science Explains Why You Can’t Stop Eating Potato Chips.)
Cookies, Cake, and Sweets
Sugar is another food that causes hunger because it's energy dense (meaning there's a lot of calories per serving). Foods with sugar also tend to be high in fat and salt, further increasing their caloric content.
Research from Yale University School of Medicine shows that any form of sugar, including honey activates your brain’s reward and appetite pathways differently to other sources of energy.
Your thalamus, hypothalamus, and insula are the areas that drive you to eat and then relax after you’ve consumed food. But when you swallow high sugar food those areas stay active, in other words, your brain tells your body you’re not full.
Low-Fat, Single-Serve Yogurt
Here's why you shouldn't eat yogurt in the morning: The sugar content in yogurt is high, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike. A sudden increase in blood sugar can leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating.
One recent review found that lots of chewing decreases the levels of ghrelin released when eating—the so-called “hunger hormone.” (See: The Case Against Low-Fat Dairy Is Stronger Than Ever.) So the time and the number of chews it takes you to eat something affects how full you feel.
Small cup-sized yogurt are dangerously because they are so easy to consume, quickly and without any chewing. The low-fat varieties also tend to be packed with sugar and other processed carbs, which promote hunger for all the reasons mentioned above. A good rule of thumb: the more quickly you can swallow something, the more likely you are to eat more of it.
Diet Soda and Artificially Sweetened Snacks
Drinking diet soda is one of the worst things you can do for your waistline. Some studies have shown that drinking just two diet sodas a day can increase your risk of developing diabetes by 33 percent, according to CNN. The reason for this is the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, which can cause insulin levels to spike quickly after drinking them and then crash, leaving people feeling hungry again quickly.
A recent Australian study found that when artificial sweeteners hit your tongue, your brain’s reward centers light up and signal to your gut to expect some energy to arrive. The problem is that when those calories don’t show up your brain forces you to consume more food to fill the void. In this way, no-calorie sweeteners like the ones in diet soda may send your hunger soaring.