We all get hungry. It is an important part of how the body works and keeps itself alive, a reminder to eat and provide your body with essential nutrients. But what does it really mean? Are you in the drivers seat, or is hunger dictating your schedule, food decisions, even your mood?

Feeling hungry when you’re trying to focus can be inconvenient or annoying, but you have more control over your body than you might think. Understanding how all your hormones and neural signals combine to generate hunger or satiety can help you put hunger in the back seat and take full control of your life.

What is Hunger?

Many people envision hunger as a measure of how much fuel they have left — like running out of gas in your car or your phone being low on battery. In reality, there are dozens of various signals that add up to a perception of hunger or fullness. The system is more complex than just being empty or full. With an unhealthy diet, you may actually feel more hungry despite eating.