Hunger impacts your ability to make good decisions

You know how those “hunger pangs” can make you feel desperate for food? And it’s not just the empty feeling in your stomach when you’ve waited too long to eat. It’s also the growling… the cramping… and the sneaking suspicion that you’re about to blow your top if you don’t get something to eat RIGHT NOW!

The kids today have a cute nickname for this – “hangry” – and now, a new study on rats shows just what happens if you try to make decisions when hunger has struck.

And the results aren’t quite so adorable.

In the study, researchers from Sweden found that high levels of the “hunger hormone” gherlin – which sends hunger signals from the stomach to the brain – doesn’t just affect the emotional side of your brain (and make you somewhat less pleasant to be around).

Being hungry could also sabotage the rational side of your brain – which means you’d be more likely to make impulsive decisions when you’re feeling famished.

The rats in this study were taught that they’d get more treats if they pressed a button after a signal was given. And when they weren’t induced into a hunger state, the critters waited patiently for the bigger amount.

But when they were given enough gherlin to mimic the feeling of fasting, their ability to wait went out the window. Even though they’d get less food – and even though they hadn’t been starved – they pressed the button instantly.

And guess what? When their gherlin levels went back to normal, those same impulsive rats became patient once again.

Now, you’ve got even bigger decisions to make than a rat does, so the big takeaway here is: Don’t do anything rash until you’ve had a snack.

If you’re so hungry that you could literally eat a horse, get thee to the kitchen, stat.

Not only will you save yourself from doing something you may regret later, but you’ll also be healthier, too – because hunger (that is, true hunger, not cravings for pizza or chocolate) is your body’s way of telling you that it needs more fuel to keep going.

You wouldn’t start a long road trip without enough fuel in your tank – and you shouldn’t spontaneously put the house on the market if you skipped breakfast this morning.

Fortunately, it is possible for you to both eat enough AND eat well – by following the Paleo Diet.

This fuel-efficient diet keeps hunger at bay by providing you with lots of nutritious, filling protein, nuts, and animal fats. And that means while you can eat as much of it as you want, you won’t have to – because each meal will take you farther than any of the processed junk you might grab out of the vending machine.

And you’re less likely to spoil your dinner by diving into the bread basket first or dipping into the candy dish as soon as you walk in the door.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
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Hormones that are released during hunger affect decision making,

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