QUESTION: Hello, I'm not quite sure what's going on with me.
I'm 16 and turning 17 at the end of January and I've been really weird lately.
First I had weird tummy feelings and now I can't stop eating. Last night for dinner I ate 4 cups of noodles, a banana, pasta that my mom brought home, a bread stick, an some rice.
And today, I've eaten a Carl's jr burger, fries, a bite of my boyfriends pizza, and 2 cups of noodles and I'm still hungry.
I don't know if this is considered an eating disorder, but I was hoping you could enlighten me on it.
ANSWER: Hi Kasadee,
Judging by what you mention here it doesn't sound to me like an eating disorder. When you say you had weird tummy feelings, were you physically feeling hungry and you felt the urge to eat to keep the tummy feelings at bay? There are a number of physical conditions that can cause excessive hunger, not necessarily eating disorders. Eating disorders consist of binge eating/comfort eating which is usually done in order to make oneself feel emotionally better, there are also disorders such as bulimia whereupon people eat in excess and make themselves vomit. In your case it sounds more like excessive hunger.
Excessive hunger can stem from conditions such as Hyperthyroidism whereupon your metabolism speeds up, your body produces too much thyroid hormone and causes you to feel hungry often despite eating, this also causes unintentional weight loss, sweating, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. A simple blood test can determine if you have this condition or not. Other conditions include Gastro-Intestinal Conditions whereupon the stomach feels empty or nauseaous, Diabetes (blood sugar can also affect thirst and hunger).
Are you craving particular foods or just food in general? For example are you craving sweets or carbs? Are you having unusual cravings?
Before looking at an emotional cause for excessive hunger I would personally look at possible physical causes first in order to rule them out.
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QUESTION: When I say I had weird feelings in my tummy, it wasn't like hunger. I don't know how to explain it. You k ow how people say they get butterflies in their tummies? Well it was kinda like that except it kind of hurt. And I'm just hungry. Not for anything in particular. And I do eat normally. 2-3 meals a day, depending on work and school schedule. And I guess you could say unusual, but I'm not sure. I normally hate topramen, and orange juice( which I had last night).
Butterflies in the stomach usually occur when you're either anxious, nervous or even when excited about something or about seeing someone, it is an anticipatory sensation. Some experts say that it is the sensation caused by blood moving from the stomach to the muscles especially in fight or flight, however the sensation can also be a sign of hunger. The fight or flight response prepares the body to become alert raising blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. Now, usually when a person is in fight or flight mode they don't normally want to eat, as the blood from the stomach is moved to the muscles to prepare for "fight or flight". However, physical causes such as an over-active thyroid can mimic symptoms of anxiety and the butterflies sensation can be felt during the anxiety type symptoms that accompany it. Being just hungry all the time seems to also sound similar to hyperthyroid. Have you lost any weight recently (unintentionally)?
Stress CAN cause a sensation similar to hunger however, as it can cause problems such as IBS or excess acid, and it could be the reason for what you are feeling.
I did find an article about gastrointestinal problems that could cause the hunger feeling, one being down to excessive stomach acid. Here is the link: http://www.nemechekconsultativemedicine.com/?page_id=1415
In this article it mentions Dyspepsia and how it can mimic hunger and how eating relieves the symptoms. It suggests taking an antacid. I would suggest that perhaps if it is related to what you're feeling having an antacid sweet like Tums or Rennie or even having some Peppermint tea when you're feeling symptoms might give you a chance to rule out acid being the cause, stress of course can cause acid, as well as diet and other stomach related problems, but if the mint/antacid helps to relieve the symptoms then it is highly possible that excess acid is causing the sensation that leads to the hunger.
May I ask, are you experiencing a lot of stress at the moment? And may I also ask, because it can be relevant with regards to food cravings, you do have a boyfriend so I did wonder if you have had unprotected sex at all? I would ask the same to a counselling client if they were experiencing food cravings out of nowhere and if they had a partner because pregnancy can cause food cravings and stomach discomfort especially within the first trimester (first three months). It's a case of ruling out physical causes.
What I can suggest for you is first of all see you Primary Care Phyisican/GP and talk to them about your feelings of hunger and food cravings, ask for a blood work up, just a check up to make sure everything is okay physically. If the results themselves are normal then you need to look at emotional causes/stress, identify the stresses in your life that may be contributing. Have you felt excessive hunger before in the past? Are you going through any particular stress that you would not usually be feeling?