Have you ever told yourself that you don’t have enough willpower or you just love food too much? You’re not alone!
There are many reasons why you frequently feel hungry. The most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry! Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.
But then at other times, the hunger may not be actual physical hunger. It may be a craving or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in life.
It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.
I’m going to talk about the difference between both, and give you some tips on how to figure out which is which.
Physical vs Psychological
Your “physical” hunger is regulated by your body through your hunger hormones. You’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.
“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s connected to a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery and suddenly want to eat. It’s not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.
Here is a 5-step process to figure out what’s going on
STEP 1 – STOP and evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.
STEP 2 – Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Pay attention to what you’re feeling and what’s going on.
STEP 3 – Have a big glass of water. Observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion but listen to your body and mind very deeply.
STEP 4 – Acknowledge your feelings. This is the hard part. If your feelings are the source, face them. Acknowledge and observe them. They need comfort and recognition, even if it’s easier just to give them food. 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.
STEP 5 – Give yourself time. If you haven’t had food in 3+ hours, it’s mealtime, and you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.
Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger. If it’s physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in healthy fats, protein, fibre, and water.
Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it. To read more on “how” to eat click here.
Rinse and repeat these 5 steps at the next sign of hunger.
The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. If you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for! But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.
Follow the 5 steps above to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.
Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually needs. Sometimes it’s food, but often it’s some self-love and compassion.