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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.

Want to hear about my Crowd Out the Bad Method to Conquer Cravings, Lose Weight, and Avoid Diabetes? Take the First Step with a FREE Consultation and Learn from My 135-Pound Victory Over Pre-Diabetes!


  1. Martha on January 21, 2024 at 8:41 am

    Great blog post! Since I changed my eating habits, I don’t get hungry throughout the day. I eat slow and have dinner early afternoon instead of late in the evening and drink water constantly. I love snacking on nuts and yes chocolate now and then! No more eating until I’m beyond the point of being overfull!

    • Karen Admin on January 21, 2024 at 3:32 pm

      Doesn’t it feel good to find the right way to eat for your body Martha? I’m happy for you…it will prolong your life and increase the quality of it too.

  2. Kate McDonald as Becca Katz on January 31, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    Some great advice!

    • Karen Admin on January 31, 2024 at 11:26 pm

      Thanks Kate

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