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January 3, 2020

The Difference Between Hunger and Emotional Hunger

When you reach for something to eat…
it’s important to know the real reason why you’re standing there in front of the refrigerator. People everywhere are struggling with weight and body image issues. Looking into how you feel about eating can tell you a lot about whether or not you should eat something, and it helps you to learn how to identify whether or not you’re eating for the right reasons. I will be sharing a few ways that will let you know the difference between hunger and emotional hunger.

Emotional Hunger
There are certain patterns and indications that you are becoming emotionally hungry. Have you ever been hungry very suddenly only a short time after eating? Physical hunger takes time to develop because it stems from the fact that your body will need nourishment from time to time. Emotional hunger does not derive from this physical process, but instead will make you crave foods even after eating a full meal. These cravings often take the form of some sort of comfort food, likely a fast food item or a very specific brand of the item. Some cultures recommend that you eat until you are 80% full. The most telling sign of emotional eating however is the deep feeling of shame that some express after eating. Food is an enjoyable activity, but if you feel guilty about eating it, that means that there is a deep psychological reason attached to your choices.

Real Hunger

The thing about hunger is that it rarely subsides until you have eaten something. Real hunger is a sign that your body needs nutrients and new components to build and replace old or dying cells. When you feel that growling in your stomach, there’s no doubt that it is time to eat. When you have a healthy relationship with food, you will eat until you are full, but not until you are so full that you feel sick or out of balance. Finishing eating will more than likely also lead to a feeling of satisfaction instead of the feelings of shame mentioned earlier.

What You Can Do
The easiest way to find out what’s going on with you and your stomach is to simply write down a detailed account of what you eat for a few days. This can help you to find out exactly when you eat too much, or when you eat things that aren’t healthy so that you can make better decisions. Learn the difference and you will soon have a handle on your emotional eating.

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Dr. Monique Belton

Executive Coach and Clinical Psychologist, Monique Belton, Ph.D. helps empower people to create their dreams.

Dr. Monique Belton

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