Your stomach growls for a number of reasons, not all of which relate to hunger. Excess gas, stomach bloat and underlying gastrointestinal problems may all be the cause of excessive stomach rumbling, according to the National Institutes of Health. Stomach growling might be a sign that you are hungry, but might also be a sign that your food is digesting as it should.
Listen to your body when you hear your stomach growling. If you have eaten a meal recently, your stomach is probably rumbling because it is working the food through your intestine. If you are eating more vegetables, such as broccoli and beans, for example, the additional gas produced may cause more noise in the intestine. If you notice stomach bloating and flatulence in addition to the rumbling, this is a sign that you are having digestive trouble, rather than a sign of hunger, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reports.
If your stomach growling is accompanied by hunger pangs, you may be ignoring your body's need for food. If you continue to ignore stomach growling, you may notice that you become lightheaded or get a headache. Consistently ignoring your body's hunger signals may make you lose weight in the short term, but may cause nutritional deficiencies, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Gross hunger may also cause you to binge and overeat to compensate.
Thirst and Hunger
Once you have learned the differences in stomach growling noises your stomach makes, you may anticipate your need for food before the rumbling starts by paying attention to your hunger pangs. However, be careful not to confuse thirst with hunger, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corp cautions. As you get older, you may mistake thirst with the need to eat. If you are not sure which you are experiencing, have a glass of water or wait 20 minutes to see which complaint seems clearer.
Benefits to Stomach Rumbling
Occasional stomach rumbling can be a good sign if you only experience it after you begin to diet. If you have been ignoring your body's natural signals and eating out of boredom, loneliness or habit, it is encouraging that you are experiencing real hunger. However, dieting should not punish the body, so respond to your hunger with healthy foods. The U.S. Department of Commerce's "Eating Healthy" guide recommends keeping healthy snacks on hand if hunger strikes between meals.
Do not starve yourself. A growling stomach is most often a sign that your body requires food, so do not feel guilty about eating when you hear it. This is the healthy and natural response to hunger, Eastern Illinois University explains. As you continue to lose weight, your appetite will change and you will need smaller amounts of food to feel full.