If you often feel hungry, you are not alone!
We are living in an era of food abundance - but not necessarily the best food. I'll save that post for another time.
There are many reasons to feel hungry. Of course, 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 other times, the hunger may not be physical hunger. It may be a craving or an emotional trigger.
These are all common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a type of diet, acute or chronic stress, or other things going on in life. It could be your body is looking for nutrition that is not supplied in the food choices you are making.
It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.
Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger
Your "physical" hunger is regulated by the body through your hunger hormones. You don't want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time. We are all programmed to seek food when our 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 based on a thought or feeling. It's what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery nearby. It's not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.
Eight steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not
1 - The first thing you need to do is stop to evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.
2 - Now that you’ve stopped. 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? Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention to your body's cues.
3 - Have a big glass of water. Now 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 that may or may not be the right one. So listen to your body and mind very deeply.
4 - If you do find that your feelings may be the source, then face them. Acknowledge and observe your feelings. They may just be needing comfort and recognition, even if they sound like they need 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.
5 - If you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.
6 - Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger.
7 - 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 protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully, it helps your digestive system do it's job much easier. Chew well and savour every bite of it.
8 - Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.
The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then follow that feeling!
But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.
Now you know eight steps 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 physically needs and don't over it. Even the best nutrition in large quantities is not what you're body needs.