Posted by: Desperately hungry | 2013/01/11

Uncontrollable hunger

Hi DietDoc

Would appreciate a prompt answer.

I am at the end of my rope. Was on anti depressants for about 6 months last year and because I felt they were doing more harm than good (in terms of side effects) I weaned off the last batch and have been off them a week.

The meds increased my appetite and I was on leave for a month during which I felt nauseous most mornings and when it finally passed I''d spent most of the morning in bed. If I did physical work (housework, gym etc) it took my mind off it. I would wake up some mornings at about 2:30am and then again 5:00am - both times ravenous and couldnt wait for breakfast so I''d snack - wait about 30 minutes for it to settle and go back to bed. I suffer from reflux - the feeling like there is food in the back of your throat, so after I went back to bed I''d lie there so nauseous and sometimes I''d vomit. If I dont eat when I get the hunger signals I end up feeling panicky, faint, really nauseous and that gnawing hunger feeling and I just cant push through it.
I have put on 16kg in the las 10 years - I am 1.5m tall approx and 36 years old.
I spend most of the day thinking about food, worrying if I am going to wake up before breakfast time really hungry (been told I should then exercise, but the hunger pangs so bad I feel ill if I don''t eat). I also worry about eating too much. I get hungry within 1-3 hours of eating. Also the reflux sometimes is just uncomfortable, other times it makes me feel hungry - possibly because the acid is not digesting the food.
I am trying to stay within the 1200kj daily intake - most times I reach about 1100kj per day. I have started exercising 3 x a week for about 40 minutes - 10-20 minutes cardio. When I gym I forget about hunger and food but when i get home the hunger cycle starts again.
My daily summary :
04h30-05h30 : breakfast - sometimes get nauseous and throw up, then take aculoid and then about 20 minutes can eat my normal breakfast of scrambled egg on brown toast
08h00-10h00 : sometime during this period get suddenly very hungry (beforehand I have a bit of a hungry feeling but try push through it) so I eat any of the following : 2 ryvita with tuna &  mayo/5 plain provita/apple/cup-a-soup/biltong/plain corn cakes
11h00 : get hungry again - so another small snack from above selection
12h30-13h30 between this time lunch : usually 2/3 tin tuna - drained, 30g green salad, 1/2 cup homemade potato salad without egg and 30g beet salad. Usually can''t finish it all because all my snacks have finally caught up with me
14h30-17h00 : next hunger attack - snack on one of my usuals and have a cup of tea
19h00-19h30 : dinner - approx 150-200g protein, 50g steamed veg and approx 80g carb (one potato) (wholewheat spaghetti) (brown rice) - also, don''t finish as previous snack catches up to me
21h00 : hungry again! Sometimes have wholewheat sandwich with left over protein or I have several provitas with marmite
22h30 : bed time - have to take anti anxiety pill and sleeping tablet otherwise if I wake early hours and feel hungry its all I can think about and then I end up really ravenous.
Am I possibly not getting enough protein? Is it more than likely boredom eating (due to when I did physical stuff I could get from breakfast to lunch with only an apple in between, granted I was eating breakfast at 7am not 5am)? Am I having too many or too little carbs? I do event co-ordination as a hobby and usually get through from breakfast to dinner with only a packet of biltong, a ham and cheese sandwich, a yoghurt and some coke to keep the glucose up - I am too busy to think about eating and I am comfortable. Even then - I don''t eat a big dinner.
I feel overwhelmed at work - too much to do, got backlogged due to health last year and just can''t catch up. Bosses pretend to understand but still give new clients, clients always wanting something right now and act like you have no other clients so you must drop everything. Maybe that is why I can''t focus at work because it seems like the load will never get lighter - even my filing is out of control!

Sorry for such a long post but I am DESPERATE to resolve this. I posted a question to Eating Disorders expert but he has not replied to anything since November so I don''t know if he''s even active anymore on H24. I couldnt post a question to your forum for weeks as the question form just did not show up.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond.

I am really struggling - Trying to eat healthy low cal foods, exercise more and also increased water from 0 glasses per day to approx 1.5L per day.
I never feel comfortable - either gradual growing hunger, feel ravenous, or feel like I''ve overeaten a bit or due to reflux feel like there''s a ball of food in my throat.

Please help me - I am obsessing about food, I struggle to concentrate on work as the minute I start feeling a bit hungry I can''t focus on anything else. I am trying to find positive ways to channel my anxieties and hope that maybe my body is just trying to adjust to a low calorie diet and it will regulate itself. I just dont know what to do anymore - I want to fall pregnant this year, but I feel my eating habits are abnormal and I just dont think I will be able to cope with the pregnancy or a baby right now but its something I want so badly that when I see people posting about their kids on facebook, its like a punch in my stomach!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Desperately Hungry
Compliments of the season to you. From what you say, I think you are either suffering from a total energy deficiency - are you quite sure that you are only eating 1200 kilojoules? or is it 1200 kilocalories (kcal)???? Eating too little can make you feel hungry all the time. Or you may have hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) which requires that you eat at least 6 small meals a day consisting of LOW-GLYCAEMIC INDEX (GI) food. Or your psychological problems and/or medications can be driving this hunger. Many people who suffer from depression/anxiety/stress turn to food for comfort. Depression as such, is a condition that can either cause massive weight gain or loss depending on how the patient reacts. Conversely antidepressants, anxiolytics and most other central nervous system medications can cause weight gain or weightloss, or stimulate or suppress the appetite. I would recommend that you have a full medical and psychological evaluation by a medical doctor, a psychologist and a registered dietitian. Ask the medical doctor to test you for hypoglycemia or insulin resistance. Ask the psychologist to assess you for an eating disorder and depression/anxiety. Ask the registered dietitian to assist you with your food intake so that you lose weight, but don't always need to suffer from hunger. Because you need a team approach, it may help to start off with an Eating Disorder Clinic. If you are in Gauteng you can contact Tara Hospital as they have an Eating Disorder clinic (phone (011) 783-2010. In Cape Town and environs you can contact the Kenilworth Clinic (021) 797-1400 and in KwaZulu Natal there is Riverview Manor (033) 701-1911, or contact them on:
I agree that this is not the time to have a baby and that you first need to get your own life in order before you contemplate pregnancy.
Go for expert help ASAP - I am holding thumbs for you.
Best regards

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