It's happened to all of us. You get up, run off to a full day of classes, and as soon as you get back to your dorm you're starving. Convinced that you can't survive until dinner, you proceed to eat about half of your snack stash and then immediately regret it. 

That after-class starving feeling is never welcome and only leads to too many regrets and ruined dinners. If this is something you've experienced, I feel your pain. I'm constantly coming home from a full day of classes and eating half a bag of popcorn and some other random junk food then collapsing into a food coma mess.

There is no logical reason for me to be that hungry when I just had lunch two hours prior. By the time I'm actually hungry for dinner after my gigantic snack, most of the dining halls are closed and I'm left stranded with nowhere to turn but Ramen noodles.

This pattern has been a source of endless frustration for me, and I've finally decided enough is enough. It's time to figure out what is causing me to become the hot mess express and end my insane snacking habits for good. I have hit the books and the Internet, and these are some possible causes that I found.


Can you relate to this gif on a deeply personal level? The "stressed college student" stereotype isn't an exaggeration. I am constantly adding to my to-do list and it often feels like I don't have enough time in the day to meet the expectations of my parents and professors. Whether it's only for midterms and finals or a constant weight on your shoulders, everyone gets stressed.

Persistent stress causes us to live in a constant state of "fight-or-flight." "Fight or flight" is an evolutionary response intended to kick in when we experience life-threatening situations; however, with our modern way of life, it's most commonly activated by stressful situations. The lack of real, immediate danger in such situations makes it hard for the body to observe the "threat" as neutralized and thus the response often stays "activated" for prolonged periods of time. 

Experiencing this response for a long period of time causes an increase in our cortisol levels as our body tries to return to normal, which in turn increases appetite. Physical and emotional distress cause us to crave fatty or sugary foods as our body searches for alternative ways to boost our mood.

I know how easy it is to scarf down a pint of ice cream and convince yourself that you feel better, but there are many better and healthier ways to beat your stress. Less stress = less cortisol = less random bad-for-you cravings. Stay zen, my friends.

Sleep Deprivation

In college, it's basically a fact of life that you're going to be tired 24/7. That's just what happens when you're trying to balance a full class schedule with your social life. What most college students don't realize is that sleep deprivation doesn't just effect your mood. Lack of sleep leads to higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which triggers your feelings of hunger.

When your body doesn't have enough sleep, it is also very energy deprived and turns to alternate sources to get that needed energy. This energy seeking can take the form of craving carbs and high-calorie foods to make up for the energy you would've gained had you slept more.

There's only one real solution to this issue, and that's to get a good eight hours of sleep a night. Whether it's taking more naps or going to bed at a more reasonable hour, sleep should be a priority so your waking hours don't suffer.

Bad Breakfast

Turns out that whoever coined the phrase "most important meal of the day" wasn't messing around. Eating a balanced breakfast is vital to the rest of our day, and a lot of college students aren't taking breakfast as seriously as they should.

Take advantage of the closest dining hall and grab some protein and/or fiber for your next morning meal. Both will keep you fuller for longer to beat the mid-afternoon cravings, and give you plenty of energy to survive even the earliest of classes.


I'm sure you're tired of hearing about how important it is to drink water, but it really is a major key. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and overly fatigued. When your body feels that way, much like with sleep deprivation, it turns to other sources to try and get more energy. This often spurs cravings for high-calorie foods in order to get the energy that your body is craving.

It's easy to get busy between classes and forget to refill your water bottle, and then after class you come back to your room feeling hungry when you're actually thirsty. Water is the ultimate hangover, drowsiness, and hunger cure. All hail the king of beverages.

The after-class hunger slump is a dinner-ruining, weight-loss-killing issue that many college students face. Whether it's because you're stressed, thirsty, tired, or just have bad breakfast habits, it's a surefire way to kill your appetite and increase the size of your waistline. Go forth and use these tips to beat-the-eat. You can thank me at dinner later when you're actually hungry.