Another factor that I believe plays a huge (yuge!) role in the psychological experience of hunger: The proportion of carbs in your most recent meal.
The problem with carbohydrates is they generally offer very little satiety per calorie. This entirely separate from all the other problems carbohydrates present to our body: insulin production, hunger roller-coaster, a quick hit of blood glucose followed by cravings for more, and so on.
Years ago, I used to eat a much more carbohydrate-centered diet. Unsurprisingly, I was hungry--a lot--and that hunger was often accompanied by all sorts of physical and psychological symptoms: I would get nervous, my stomach would growl at an astounding volume, I'd get the jitters, sometimes I'd even get even fearful... sometimes I'd even start sweating. I believed I had to have something to eat, right away! And preferably something starchy or sugary, because I thought that was what my body needed to get my blood sugar "up."
Little did I know I was just getting right back onto the proverbial hunger roller-coaster.
After enough years of this went by, I'd become trained, Pavlov-like, to connect the feeling of fear with the feeling of hunger. Yep, fear. Because I knew what was coming, soon, after I experienced the feeling of hunger--that weak, dizzy, jittery, low-blood sugar feeling I would get if I didn't eat something every three or four hours.
Today, I eat a diet much more heavily centered on fats and proteins. Unlike carbs, proteins and fat offer far more satiety per calorie, take longer to metabolize, and they don't put the human body on an insulin/hunger roller-coaster. And on this less carb-centered diet, I regularly execute fasting windows of twelve, sixteen, even twenty hours with no fear and no problem, and only occasional, passing emotions of hunger. And even these passing feelings don't always happen to me all the time.
Of course, I didn't know any of this back years ago when I followed the government's completely upside down Food Pyramid and ate a heavily carb-centered diet. I was hopelessly naive about concepts like satiety or the hunger roller-coaster. So when I experienced "hunger" I actually thought it was the real thing... and feared it.
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