How many times do you find yourself reaching for food during an average day?
Hunger is the physiological need for calories, water, and salt, and it’s driven by a mix of factors, including your diet, hunger hormones, and emotional factors, such as stress. Sometimes you may be genuinely running on empty but other times, the hunger may not be “physical hunger”, it could be a craving or an emotional trigger.
It could be brought on by number of different things, such as a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in your life but it’s easy to mistake ‘psychological’ hunger for ‘physical’ hunger.
Physical Hunger Vs Psychological Hunger
Your body has a sophisticated way of regulating your “physical hunger” through your hunger hormones. Your body needs to ensure there is enough fuel in the tank to sustain it at any one time to survive. If you go without food for a long period of time, your body is programmed to send signals (such as your stomach rumbling or low blood sugar levels) to make sure you find food.
‘Psychological’ or ’emotional’ hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress – even happiness can cause you to want to eat. It’s based on a thought or feeling.
It can come from an external cue, such as an ad break on the tv and you’re up checking out what’s in the fridge or smelling bread cooking walking past a bakery. It’s not a cue from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.
The first thing you need to do is stop!
Question when was the last time you ate? Did you skip a meal? Do you really need food? Is your stomach rumbling? Are you bored, sad, or stressed? Is this part of your daily routine time to snack? Take a look at all of these areas and really pay attention.
You could be dehydrated
Grab yourself a glass of water before eating anything, hunger and thirst can often get mixed up. Try to keep your fluid intake topped up during the day to prevent this confusion
Are you eating enough?
If you have reduced your calorie intake for fat loss or have been very active, you may constantly feel hungry if you’re not eating enough calories to sustain your biological needs. True hunger is a sign form the body that it needs more energy to function and it doesn’t always have to rely on a rumbling stomach.
Hunger can manifest itself in many ways from feelings of fatigue, to dizziness, trouble concentrating and always thinking about food! If you’re not sure that you’re eating enough check our recent blog for 5 signs that you’re not eating enough; https://www.dropit21.com/are-you-eating-enough/
Did you rush your last meal?
Hectic schedules, lunch on the go…it’s a typical day to day scenario. Are all of your meals rushed or do you find yourself distracted eating at your desk or scrolling through your phone? Research has shown that distracted eaters are much more likely to finish off all of the food on their plates, potentially leading to overeating. When in contrast non-distracted eaters reported a reduction in the food they consumed.
Consider mindful eating, not only can it make you feel more satiated but it has also been linked to a reduction in food cravings and emotional eating.
Are you sleeping enough?
If you’re not sleeping as much as need to, you’re much more likely to crave sugary foods. Sleep plays a significant role in regulating hormones and may contribute to increased feelings of hunger and cravings.
If you think that your feelings may be the source of your hunger, then address them
Try to acknowledge your feelings and observe them. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger.
Also question what you are craving, a truly hungry person, will eat a large range of foods that will quickly quiet a rumbling stomach. Someone with an emotionally-driven craving often only craves a specific type of food or taste — not just chocolate, but chocolate with caramel. If only a salty snack will do, it’s likely that this is an urge for comfort.
If you have deduced that it is physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food.
Foods that will fill you up, that are high in protein, fibre, and water are great choices. Make sure you eat slowly and mindfully to avoid overeating.
Repeat this at the next sign of hunger
- Make The Right Decision