Learn to recognize emotional hunger

23 Apr 2020

Are you hungry or looking for comfort? If you make food your coping mechanism, you’re more likely to reach for unhealthy options and overeat. Find out what cues to look for and how to avoid emotional eating.

Are you hungry or looking for comfort? If you make food your coping mechanism, you’re more likely to reach for unhealthy options and overeat. Find out what cues to look for and how to avoid emotional eating.

A vessel to fill

Basically, there are two different types of hunger. The first one is physical hunger, reminding us we’re running low on fuel and it’s time to have a meal. This one is fairly easy to recognise. It grows slowly, includes all sorts of physical symptoms and is satisfied by any kind of food. When you open the fridge - everything looks good.

Bottomless pit

Emotional hunger is the trickier one. It appears suddenly and most likely in response to an emotional event (anxiety, sadness, boredom...). It doesn’t manifest itself in physical symptoms, so you won’t hear your stomach growl. Usually, emotional hunger demands high-fat and high-sugar foods or foods that we recognize as comforting .

If you’re looking for comfort, you’re likely to make several unsuccessful trips to the fridge; the cravings are very specific. Emotional hunger is bottomless and almost impossible to satisfy. Take that as a cue that food is not what your body needs in that moment.

You’ve got this

You must learn to differentiate between the two hungers and learn to control them. Since emotional hunger is not really about food, you will need to find another way to satisfy your needs – try going for a walk to clear your head or meditation. This is not an easy process and if you feel overwhelmed by it or have other concerns, consider getting a professional opinion.