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  • Writer's pictureSepi

Hunger Games: Understanding the Role of Hormones in ADHD and Appetite

Are you someone who can't resist the urge to snack, no matter how hard you try? Do you have ADHD and wonder why snacking seems to be an ever-present part of your daily routine? Well, you're not alone! Research has shown that individuals with ADHD are more likely to snack, and it's not just because of a lack of willpower. In this video, we'll explore the fascinating reasons why ADHD can make you a snacking machine, from the role of hunger hormones to the impact of stress and sleep on your cravings. So grab a snack (or two!) and let's dive in!

As always, you can watch this video or read my blog!

Why exactly are individuals with ADHD more likely to snack?

Well, recent studies have suggested that hunger hormones may play a role in this phenomenon. There are 4 of them.

There is Ghrelin, commonly known as the 'hunger hormone', is produced in the stomach and small intestine and stimulates appetite. Leptin, on the other hand, is a hormone that is produced by fat cells and helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. It also plays a role in appetite regulation by inhibiting the production of ghrelin and stimulating the release of PYY, which helps to reduce hunger. PYY is produced by cells in the small intestine and colon in response to food intake, and helps to reduce appetite by sending signals to the brain to indicate that the body has had enough to eat.

 	"In individuals with ADHD, the balance of these hormones may be disrupted, leading to increased snacking and food intake."

Research has shown that individuals with ADHD tend to have higher levels of ghrelin than individuals without ADHD, even when they are not hungry. This means that individuals with ADHD may experience stronger feelings of hunger and may be more prone to snacking behavior, even when they are not actually hungry. One study investigated ghrelin levels in children and adolescents with ADHD and found that they had significantly higher levels of ghrelin than healthy controls. The study also found that higher ghrelin levels were associated with more severe symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in children with ADHD.

Another study examined the relationship between ghrelin levels and symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents. The study found that higher levels of ghrelin were associated with more severe symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in children with ADHD. So the more severe the adhd symptoms are, the higher the levels are ghrelin! interesting!!

This is almost making me les guilty for wanting to snack all the time :))

What does hunger feel like?

1. Do you pay attention to your physical sensations when it comes to hunger? Hunger is usually accompanied by physical sensations such as stomach growling, a feeling of emptiness or hollowness in the stomach, and sometimes a slight headache or lightheadedness. It's important to keep in mind that depending on the food you've eaten, digestion can take different amounts of time. For instance, if you've had meat or fish, it can take up to 48 hours to fully digest. However, most foods take around 2-6 hours to leave your stomach, and it's normal to feel hungry after 6-8 hours. If you can wait 8 hours between your meals with no snacking to make sure your stomach is completely empty, you can ensure that you're maintaining a healthy eating pattern. For many people, achieving this goal can be very beneficial for overall health. So next time you feel hungry, take a moment to tune in to your physical sensations and consider the timing of your last meal to make informed decisions about when and what to eat.

2. Consider your emotions: Sometimes, people mistake feelings of boredom, stress, or sadness for hunger. If you're not sure whether you're hungry or not, try to assess your emotional state and determine if you're eating out of habit or to soothe emotions. There is nothing wrong with finishing a pint of icecream when we are sad. I do that sometimes but if it’s something we are reguilarly doing, it is good to pay attention to see how we can avoid it. We can avoid this by trying to stick to a set time and schedule for eating. Always having healthy food prepared in the fridge. Or drinking water before we eat.

3. When you feel hungry, ask yourself if you would be willing to eat something healthy like a piece of fruit or a vegetable. If you're not willing to eat something healthy, you may not be truly hungry. Waiting until your stomach is empty, but not too hungry, can help you avoid craving fast carbs. It's recommended to wait at least 6-8 hours between meals with no snacking to ensure your stomach is completely empty, but you should eat before you become too hungry. This can help you achieve the ultimate goal of eating healthy and maintaining good health.

4. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. In fact, sometimes when we feel hungry, we might actually be dehydrated and thirsty. This is why it's essential to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. When you're properly hydrated, your urine will be almost the color of water. So if you notice that your urine is darker in color, it might be a sign that you need to drink more water. By staying hydrated, you can help prevent unnecessary snacking and maintain a healthy weight. So, next time you feel a hunger pang, take a moment to drink some water first and see if that helps.

It's important to note that hunger can vary from person to person, so it's important to listen to your body and eat when you feel hungry. However, it's also important to be mindful of what you're eating and try to make healthy food choices. ... Now that we understand what hunger is and how it feels, let's talk about some of the factors that can affect our hunger levels!

Why Your Breakfast Choices Matter More Than You Think

Have you ever felt like a hungry little gremlin shortly after eating a sugary, carb-loaded breakfast? Well, it turns out that's not just your imagination -

when we eat high-carb meals in the morning, we're essentially feeding the hunger hormones in our body. These hormones, like ghrelin, signal our brain to ramp up our appetite and make us crave even more food. And just like feeding a gremlin after midnight, the more we feed these hunger hormones with sugary, high-carb breakfasts, the stronger they become.

This can leave us feeling like we're on a never-ending rollercoaster of hunger and cravings throughout the day. So, if you want to avoid feeling like a ravenous little gremlin, it's important to start the day with a balanced breakfast that includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. That way, you can keep those hunger hormones at bay and have the energy you need to tackle the day ahead!" ,let me know in the comments what’s your favorite breakfast right now? Processed foods not only can disrupt hunger hormones and lead to overeating but they can also play a role in snacking behavior in individuals with ADHD. Processed foods tend to be high in sugar, fat, and salt, which can be particularly appealing to individuals with lower dopamine levels. Additionally, the quick energy boost from processed foods can provide a temporary improvement in focus and attention, which can be appealing to individuals with ADHD. If you have a sweet tooth like me download my sugar free recipes. Choosing sugary smoothies for breakfast may not be the best choice for individuals with ADHD, as they can cause a spike in hunger hormones and lead to cravings for sugar throughout the day. Instead, opt for a balanced breakfast that includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to help regulate appetite and reduce the likelihood of snacking and cravings later on."

Anxiety, sleep & hunger

Anxiety can often trigger hunger and cause individuals to eat more not always! The relationship between anxiety and hunger is very complex. It varies form person to person. I personally have experienced both. Sometimes I completely lose my appetite when I am stressed and anxious about an event. But if I am going through an emotional crisis for example, I get hungry.

The reason we sometimes get hungry when we are stressed is because. This is because anxiety triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can stimulate appetite and lead to an increase in food intake.

Stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to increased snacking behavior in individuals with ADHD. Stress can lead to emotional eating, where individuals use food as a way to cope with stress or anxiety. Lack of sleep can disrupt hunger hormones, including ghrelin and leptin, which can lead to increased snacking and overeating.

Have you ever noticed that when you don't get enough sleep, you feel like snacking more and your cravings go through the roof? It's because lack of sleep messes with the hormones that control your appetite and can make you feel hungrier than you really are. You don't need a fancy study to prove it – just try getting a few good nights of sleep and pay attention to how you feel and what you eat. Then, stay up late for a night or two and notice the difference in your cravings. It's like night and day!

What helps with bettering sleep and lowering anxiety?

Recent studies have suggested that meditation may help to regulate hunger hormones like ghrelin, which could be particularly beneficial for individuals with ADHD who struggle with snacking and impulse control. If you don’t want to meditate but you want to learn quick ways to destress stay tuned for my upcoming blog/video! In a systematic review, the authors reviewed 19 previous studies on the effects of mindfulness meditation on eating behaviors and found that mindfulness meditation was associated with reduced levels of ghrelin, increased feelings of fullness, and improvements in binge eating and emotional eating behaviors. Although this study did not focus specifically on individuals with ADHD, its findings suggest that mindfulness meditation may have potential benefits for regulating appetite and improving eating behaviors in a broader population. Additionally, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention and hyperactivity, by increasing activity in areas of the brain responsible for attention and self-control. By incorporating meditation into their daily routine, individuals with ADHD may be able to better regulate their appetite and improve their overall health and well-being.


In many of my previous blogs/videos, I've talked about the role of dopamine in ADHD. It's a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate our pleasure and reward centers. Unfortunately, people with ADHD often have lower levels of dopamine, which can lead to cravings for sugary and fatty foods that give us a quick boost. However, we don't always have to rely on food to get our dopamine fix! One great way to increase dopamine levels is through exercise. So let's shift our focus from relying on food to boost our dopamine to incorporating exercise into our daily routine.

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