Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’re grabbing a snack because of outside factors or if you really need one. Here’s how to decode your hunger!
You’re about to sit down to watch some TV, but you decide to hit up the kitchen first before you do. While you’re rifling through your cabinets for a treat, you probably aren’t thinking about whether or not you’re actually hungry.
The truth is:
It can be challenging to know when your body truly needs food.
If you want to learn how to tell when you’re really hungry, you’re in the right place. We’re going to help you get to the bottom of it so you can decode your hunger once and for all.
Physical Hunger vs. Psychological Hunger
There are two main kinds of hunger we all experience. They both feel like actual hunger, but they are entirely different. One requires food to satisfy it, while you can meet the other differently.
Physical hunger (when you’re really hungry) is the feeling you get when you need food. On the other hand, psychological hunger has more to do with your emotions and actions than a need to eat.
Telling these two sensations apart is the key to keep yourself from overeating when you’re feeling bored, stressed out, or lonely.
Let’s take a closer look at each one so you can learn to tell which one you’re experiencing in the future.
Physical hunger is the real deal. This is when your body needs you to eat to provide it energy through food. And in this case, any food will do the job, no matter what it is.
Hunger cues accompany your physical hunger, such as your stomach growling.
Psychological hunger is not real hunger. Instead, it’s a faux feeling of hunger often associated with emotions like boredom, stress, and loneliness. It can also arise when you’re doing something like watching tv where you typically have a snack.
If you’re craving something in particular and don’t want anything else, you’re most likely experiencing psychological hunger.
This kind of hunger doesn’t come with any hunger cues, which is a big tip off that you’re not really hungry.
Learn About Hunger Cues
When you’re truly hungry, your body will let you know.
Hunger cues are the symptoms of physical hunger and your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat something.
They will often include:
- A Feeling of Emptiness
- Hunger Pangs
- Growling Stomach
If you wait too long to eat, you may end up feeling more drastic cues due to low blood sugar. When you get to the point of feeling fatigue, dizziness, lack of focus, irritability, and shakiness, then you need to eat.
Experiencing hunger cues often means you may need to change up your eating to more satisfying foods.
You want to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to provide you with enough energy for your day. Anything packed with fiber or protein is your best bet for satisfying your hunger for longer periods of time.
Give Your Hunger Some Time
Sometimes, you can figure out if you’re hungry for real by waiting it out. If you’re having a craving or dealing with an emotion, your hunger will likely pass after a little while.
True hunger will always linger, and your cues will become more persistent until you eat. There’s no avoiding it.
If you can’t determine whether you’re really hungry, drink a glass of water and wait for 20 minutes before getting any food to see how your body reacts. Stay distracted during that time, so you don’t think about food.
When the 20 minutes are over, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of hunger you’re experiencing.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
Interviewing yourself might seem a little silly, but it’s a great way to learn more about your hunger and get down to the truth of it. It may surprise you how effective a few questions can be.
Ask yourself these questions before you head to the kitchen.
When Was the Last Time I Ate?
Usually, if you ate within the last three hours, you’re probably not physically hungry. This isn’t always the case, though. That’s why it’s essential to go through a few questions and combine the answers to decode your hunger.
How Am I Feeling Right Now?
Are you experiencing any strong emotions at the moment?
Naming and dealing with your feelings is much better for you than comfort eating. Try to get to the bottom of where you are in your head before looking to your stomach.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling physical symptoms, you may genuinely be hungry.
Am I Just Thirsty?
Thirst is remarkably easy to confuse with hunger because their symptoms can overlap. So much so that you might just need a nice cool beverage to satisfy you.
This is why it’s good to try water first. It might help!
Would an Apple Satisfy My Hunger?
If you would turn down an apple because the only thing that will please you is a doughnut, you’re probably not physically hungry. Cravings can make you feel hungry, but they’re often just in your head.
While you might have preferences when you’re super hungry, you won’t be nearly as picky because you just want food.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a great way to help satisfy your true hunger and appreciate food for what it does for your body. It emphasizes the real purpose of food, which isn’t comfort.
Practice mindful eating by eating slower and giving your brain time to process what you’re eating so you feel full once you’ve finished.
Don’t eat in front of the tv or while you’re using your phone. Eating while you’re distracted is a bad habit to get into and leads to eating when you’re not hungry.
Doing these things will help you recognize why you’re eating and learn to connect food to hunger and not your emotions.
When it comes to figuring out whether or not you’re hungry, the most important thing you can do is listen to your body. No matter what you’re feeling or doing when your body needs food, it will give you a sign.
Don’t ignore your natural instincts!
Decoding your hunger isn’t always easy, but after a while of paying attention, you’ll start to get the hang of it.
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with The Proper on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.