By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.
There are wonderful feelings that come about from getting up in age. I remember as a child up through my twenties from time-to-time experiencing some really intense hunger contractions in my stomach. They were not so bad, but memorable enough to want to avoid them as much as possible. Normal hunger pangs usually last about 30-seconds and do not begin until 12 to 24 hours after the last ingestion of food. When you are busy or having emotional states like anger or joy food is sometimes the last thing on your mind. But when your blood sugar levels drop your hunger feeling increases and are really intensified for those with diabetes.
For us older folks it is normal to have fewer hunger contraction periods, but there is one time of day that I could not explain until recently that I think is worth sharing. After a normal night’s sleep, whenever I eat breakfast before or around 9 AM, I usually get pretty extreme hunger pangs about two hours after eating the breakfast. Sometimes it feels like I have not eaten all day. Well, I recently learned that particular feeling is normal for a lot of people because breakfast time coincides with our body’s circadian cortisol peak — the time of day when our cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise and reach their peak.
This thing called circadian cortisol peak has an impact on insulin secretion. When we eat during this time it leads to a rapid and large insulin release, and a corresponding rapid drop in blood sugar levels that can make you feel really hungry. Since I do not eat breakfast every day, I would notice it more on the days that I would choose to eat early. So now I have some good advice that by skipping breakfast, or delaying it until later in the day (basically accepted as a form of intermittent fasting), I am able to avoid food cravings and hunger for the rest of the day.
Informed doctors can speak to the circadian cortisol peak as impacting insulin secretion, such that when you eat during this time it leads to a rapid and large insulin release. It is followed by a corresponding rapid drop in blood sugar levels, more so than when you eat at other times of the day. As long as you are not hypoglycemic, your blood sugar levels do not drop to dangerously low levels, but they can drop low enough to make you feel hungry. This is more commonly experienced in people who are not insulin resistant, because the circadian cortisol peak adds another insulin-boosting effect on top of an already insulin-sensitive individual. So, those mid-morning hunger messages can be avoided from simply abstaining from eating, not to mention there are numerous health benefits that result from intermittent fasting.
Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.