Physical vs. Emotional Hunger


There is a clear difference when it comes to eating because we are actually hungry vs. eating to soothe an emotion or feeling. Let’s break it down.

Listening to your body

When discussing physical hunger, let’s think about how much time has passed since the last time you ate.  Was it one hour, two hours or more like four?  If you are thinking and considering your options you are likely experiencing signs of physical hunger. You have cues: your stomach is growling.  Hunger has grown over time. Once you eat you feel satisfied.

Emotional Hunger

This could be described as little time has passed since your last bite. You want something specific like salty or crunchy or sweet.  Eating feels like the ONLY option to make you feel better.  You feel an urgency to eat NOW! Food does not totally satisfy and you are still food-seeking after you eat.

Identifying Food Triggers

Many of us use food as a coping mechanism. Happy? Eat. Sad? Eat. Stressed? Eat. Tired? Eat. Mad? Eat.  I learned at a young age that when I ate sugar I felt better. It allowed me some solace in a crazy home environment.  As a teenager, I learned that I could control my weight by controlling how much I ate. In my early 20s I learned that I could exercise more and that would allow me to eat more food and possibly look like all the models in the swimsuit magazines. And in my late 20s I realized that I had disordered thinking related to food! 

Emotional Eating

Crazy how that just snuck up on me!  After years of working on my eating habits and identifying my triggers, I am still NOT perfect but I have definitely learned and improved.  You can too!  We all emotionally eat at times. There is nothing wrong with it but if it turns into a behavior or pattern that doesn’t serve you, you may want to dig deeper and find some other coping mechanisms that can help you through those emotional times.

Techniques to identify eating triggers

Look into the soothing and distracting techniques to figure out what may work for you.  Some that I like are read, connecting with someone, take a bath or get outside.  The most important part though is, to be HONEST with yourself.  You are the only one that can make these changes. I know you can do it and I will be here to help you along the way!

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