The human body is quite an amazing machine that we are still learning so much about. In fact it was only as recently as the past 15 year that scientists discovered the purpose of two hormones in our body called ‘Leptin’ and ‘Ghrelin’.
Ghrelin is the hormone that is responsible for initiating hunger. We need to eat to gain calories, because we need calories to survive. Simple. Yet the hormone ghrelin doesn’t just increase in the body when the stomach is empty and needs food, it is also linked to the body clock of habit and pattern. If you are a late night muncher, then your body gets used to eating late at night and your ghrelin levels peak around that time each day.
The same sort of thing happens when people go on yo-yo diets or restrict themselves of food. This ‘stop-start’ way of eating actually increases the base level of ghrelin in your system throughout the day, which means when you feel hungry all the time and when you allow yourself to eat, you will probably go on a binge fest.
Leptin on the other hand is the hormone that makes us feel full and satisfied. So when you have eaten a meal, your leptin levels peak and your brain knows you have eaten enough and shuts down on the ghrelin production.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to eat when you are hungry (your body needs energy!) yet eat slowly and with awareness. The slower you eat, the more time your body has time to recognise it is full, and release the leptin, before you can continue and over eat!