Is Your Hunger Emotional or Physical? How to Spot the Difference

Is Your Hunger Emotional or Physical? How to Spot the Difference

The lines between physical and emotional hunger are usually blurred for many of us. 
Emotional hunger usually sees you turn to food suddenly out of nowhere that may be linked to avoid uncomfortable emotions or to heighten a pleasurable one. You may experience cravings for a certain food which you need to eat immediately and often are the only thing that can curb this hunger sensation. Typically, it means you are eating based on how you feel, rather than what your body actually needs. 
On the other end of the spectrum physical hunger sees you eating when your body signals to you that you are hungry. Satisfying this hunger often leaves you feeling fulfilled and nourished.
It is important that you are able to identify what feelings, places, or situations that may push you into an emotional state where you feel the need to eat to curb that feeling as soon as possible - this is not always a negative emotion, emotional hunger can also come from feelings of joy, love, or happiness.
Some common triggers for emotional eating include:
  • Stress or anger
  • Boredom 
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Social influences
  • Peer pressure 
  • Loneliness
  • Health issues 


Whatever your personal trigger may be, the cycle tends to stay the same - these emotions drive you to unhealthy eating habits.
So how do we go about changing our habits to be able to identify our triggers? 
In order to break the cycle we must learn to accept these emotions we are feeling. When you want to push these feelings away - invite them, centre yourself, and really feel these emotions. For negative feelings substitute them for positive behaviours instead.
A great tip is to identify and name the emotion out loud! Recognise these feelings are valid and deserve to be expressed but do so in a healthy way.
Below is a checklist designed to help you identify if you succumb to emotional eating:
  • You eat more when you are feeling stressed
  • You eat when you are not physically hungry or when you are full
  • You eat to feel better
  • You reward yourself with food
  • You regularly eat until you are not longer comfortable
  • You often feel powerless or out of control around food
If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these points - try out our trips below!
  • Get yourself a large glass of water and take a few deep breaths
  • Hold off on eating anything for 10 minutes and then reassess how you feel
  • Treat yourself to a hot cup of tea (we love a green or hibiscus tea)
  • Listen to some music or your favourite audiobook to get your mind off being hungry
  • Check in with yourself - what emotions are you feeling right now? 
  • Go for a walk


By learning how to effectively listen to your body - you will be able to live a fulfilling and healthy life. Knowing your cues for emotional and physical hunger will also result in you feeling more in control of your eating habits and place less pressure on food to help your emotions.
By Courtney Moane.
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