Apr. 2. 2018
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

It’s time to have a better understanding of your personal health through hunger cues and science-based nutrition.

There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to healthy living. There isn’t a cure-all or magic diet, either. The secret is in knowing your body — what it needs to feel 100%, how it moves, and how it lets you know when something is wrong. This awareness is essential in order to improve the habits that set up how you feel every day. It sheds light on emotions that drive our eating decisions and motivations to exercise, and it teaches us to check in on ourselves when we’re stressed, tired, or unhappy.

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Scientific research is still uncovering the many ways our bodies are affected by our microbiome, stress, inflammation, genetics, and lifestyle. Our food choices are literally signally messages to the cells in our body and mind, which impacts our sense of self, how we feel, and ultimately how we show up.

Listening to your body — while it may be a cliche to some — is top of mind for us here at NS this month. It’s the key to developing a healthy relationship with food and ultimately, our bodies. Let’s begin.

Understanding Common Hunger Cues

You Don’t Have an Appetite

If you’ve noticed a decreased appetite, you may have experienced unintentional weight loss, you may have lost a desire to eat, or simply just never feel as hungry as before. The thought of eating may even make you feel nauseous.

If you don’t have an appetite, you may be able to tie it to these psychological factors: anxiety, depression, stress, grief, and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. There may be health-related conditions at play too. Think migraines, pregnancy and post-partum depression, the common cold, the flu, and even alcohol withdrawals.

There may be signs you’re not eating enough too from low energy, poor sleep quality, physical hunger, cravings, headaches, etc. So often nutrition resources are geared towards weight loss, but a focus on underweight nutrition is especially important, too. I recommend talking with a dietitian and your physician to rule out possible health challenges and dive deeper with a therapist or your dietitian who can walk you through mindful eating, intuitive eating, and stress management.

You’re Hungry All The Time

If you find yourself hungry all the time, it may be a result of several lifestyle factors like lack of sleep, drinking alcohol, feeling stressed, or maybe you’re taking certain medications that affect your hunger. When these factors are at play, your hormone levels can fall out of whack, causing you to feel hungry even when you’re not.

Never-ending hunger is probably related to your diet, too. If you’re obsessing over calories instead of the nutrient content of the foods you’re eating, you may be missing out on the key components of a nourishing diet. Hint: all of the macronutrients work together to create a balanced diet that satiates you — that’s why Nourish Bowls are so great.

Here are reasons you might feel hungry all the time:

  • You’re dehydrated — water is responsible for every process in the body, including your metabolism. By drinking enough water every day, you’re helping your digestion keep moving, while supporting an efficient metabolism, and so much more. (1)(2) Need more convincing? Check out our spotlight on water.
  • You’re eating too many starchy carbs — these refined carbs not only lack the nutrients your body needs to function properly, they cause a spike in blood sugar, and then a crash. You’ll be left hungry again, sooner!
  • You may not be getting enough protein — protein is known for its ability to provide you with the feeling of fullness; that’s because it takes longer for your body to digest. (3)
  • You’re not getting enough healthy fats — like protein, healthy fats can help you feel fuller. Try adding ingredients like avocado, full-fat coconut milk, and almond butter to your smoothies! Check this post for more ideas.
  • You eat too fast — your mind may not register when you’re feeling full from a meal if you inhale it quickly. Set yourself up to feel fuller, longer, by allowing your digestion to do its thing and chewing food slowly.
  • You may be going through an emotional time of your life. Stress, feeling pressure or a lack of control — emotions play a role in our relationship with food and how often we feel the need to eat. (4) Check in with yourself around mealtime and ask yourself if you’re being fueled to eat by how you feel, or if your body really needs food.


  1. Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010, August). Water, Hydration & Health.
  2. Riebl, S. K., & Davy, B. M. (2013). The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance.
  3. Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008, May). Protein, weight management, and satiety.
  4. Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2013, September). Stress and Eating Behaviors.

Let’s Hear It

Have you experienced any of these common cues? Have you struggled with truly listening to your body? What tricks have you seen work with your personal health? Keep the conversation going by commenting below — and connect with us on Instagram @nutritionstripped #nutritionstripped. Stay tuned as we delve deeper this month!

xx McKel