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Emotional vs Physical Hunger – Learn to Tell the Difference

Do you sometimes eat when you’re actually not hungry? Being able to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger is key for mindful eating. Learn how to read your body’s cues.

Physical Hunger Signs

  • Stomach growling
  • Low energy or weakness
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or shakiness
  • Stomach pangs or stomach pain

Physical hunger comes on gradually and builds over time. The urge to eat will go away if you eat a meal or snack.

Emotional Hunger Signs

  • Craving specific comfort foods or snacks
  • Wanting to eat even when you just ate
  • Eating out of boredom, habit or procrastination
  • Sudden, intense urge to eat
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed about eating
  • Eating past the point of feeling full

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and feels urgent. Eating provides stress relief or distraction, but the feelings return quickly.

Tips to Curb Emotional Eating

  • Identify your triggers like stress, anxiety, loneliness
  • Find alternatives for comfort like calling a friend or meditation
  • Keep unhealthy foods out of the house
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Pause and rate your hunger on a scale from 1-10
  • Drink water and wait 20 minutes to see if the urge passes

Learning to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger takes self-awareness. Pay attention to your body’s signals, triggers and behaviors. This mind-body awareness is the first step toward change.

Need help overcoming those cravings? Let’s chat.

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