Learn to recognise emotional hunger

10 Mar 2020

It's crucial to understand the difference between real and emotional hunger. Check these 5 indicators that you should not give in to the craving.

We’ve all been there - looking for a little something-something in the fridge, the cupboards, freezer or on restaurant’s menu. Till recently you weren’t even hungry. Now, all of a sudden, there’s the need, the urge to eat … something!

This is one warning sign that you’re just emotionally hungry. But there’s more.

5 warning signs of emotional (not real) hunger

The need for food comes out of the blue

When something else triggers the need of eating – not empty stomach and depleted reserves – this need usually pops up from nothing.

Tip: Drink a glass of water, do some stretches and give yourself 20 minutes before thinking about food again.

Anything will do

If you know that you want to chew on something but are not really sure WHAT you want, this might be the time to ignore that urge.

Tip: In this case it’s best to agree with yourself that you won’t eat till you know EXACTLY what you want.

Relax, it’s just the stress

If you notice both mentioned warning signs it’s a good idea to relax – but you need to relax your muscles! This will convince your brain that everything is fine.

Tip: Lay down on a bed, couch or floor and do 5-10 minutes of yoga nidra. Squeeze one muscle at the time and relax it. Do it until you squeezed and relaxed every part of your body – from left big toe to right part of your jaw. Feel free to follow a YouTube audio guide to make it easier.

When out of danger, dig deep

When you’re sure what you’re experiencing is not real hunger (because you still don’t know what you want, you know that this came all of a sudden, and you feel a bit better after the muscle relaxation), start thinking of what happened that pushed you into the food need.

Tip: If you don’t know how to check with yourself, writing 3 journal pages is a good start. Allow yourself to ask what could be wrong and write whatever pops into your mind. It doesn’t have to make any sense; you can progress to writing about anything you want.

Look for a pattern

If you notice you’re having a real problem with emotional hunger and this happens often, you’ll notice a pattern – the stuff that throws you out of whack has something in common. It can be loneliness, feeling of failure, rejection, despair or similar. Either cause – it can’t be fixed with food.

Tip: Look for a pattern and think about the challenge you’re obviously battling. Think about how it fits into your life – what it’s connected to, who is involved in it and how long you’re feeling like this for. Seek help, talk to your friend or family member, or at least think about it often. And remember: Food can’t fix everything.