Physical and Psychological Hunger

We talked before about the hunger scale and tips on how you can use it as a tool to help you reconnect with what the feelings of physical hunger and fullness actually feel like.  

The first step in using the scale is to rank your hunger before you start to eat and ask yourself “Am I really hungry?”. At this point, it is also important to consider the reasons you may want to eat.

There are two main types of hunger – physical and psychological hunger. But what is the difference? 

Physical hunger – This is when your stomach is empty and your brain signals that it is hungry by initiating stomach growling, thoughts about food, tiredness and poor concentration. When you are physically hungry, any food will satisfy you. Feeling your hunger cues is important and a great way to know if you are consuming adequate food or not.

Psychological hunger – This is when we desire to eat with no obvious physical feelings. It is more likely that you will reach for sweet or salty snacks, like chocolate and crisps, as these make us “feel good”. Psychological hunger can lead to over-eating these particular foods, as we may ignore our fullness cues.

If you rate yourself ‘6’ or above on the hunger scale, think about other reasons that may be triggering you to eat. These could be:

💭 Boredom

🕑 Habit

🏡 Places/Situations

👫 People

😢 Emotions

If you suspect that your hunger is due to any psychological factors, instead of eating, try doing something else. Distract yourself by engaging with other activities such as walking, reading, chatting with a friend or meditating.

Once you learn to recognise the difference between physical and psychological hunger, then you can start to look at strategies to help you deal with these triggers. 

Let us know in the comments below if you struggle with any of the above and if our tips helped you deal with these struggles.

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