5 Signs It Could Be Psychological Not Physical Hunger

5 Signs It Could Be Psychological Not Physical Hunger Image

Overeating is mostly caused by emotional issues!

Food has one simple function, to supply the body with the nutrition it needs to survive.

Learning to recognize true hunger from cravings is a key method to stop overeating. Give it a shot!

There can be many reasons why you eat, but not all of these have to do with the physical need for food. In fact, many of the cravings that cause you to reach for a snack or eat more have nothing to do with nutritional needs. They are more about your mental and emotional desires.

Learning the difference between psychological and physical hunger can help you stay on track and make healthier choices in your diet.

What Exactly is Psychological Hunger?

There isn’t a physical need for survival when it comes to psychological hunger. Instead of eating to keep your body alive and functioning, you’re eating to satisfy a desire, a compulsive need, or emotional upset. That’s because your mind has convinced your food will help resolve the issue. You eat because you’re bored, lonely, or unfulfilled, not because you physically require food.

Psychological hunger is about filling some void in your mind or your life. Unfortunately, no matter how much or what you eat, that void cannot be filled by food. This kind of eating behavior can lead to excess weight, more stress, more psychological strain, and a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.

So how can you identify if you’re eating out of mental or emotional need rather than physical hunger?

Here are five signs that’ll help you decide if your eating habits are coming from your mind, not your stomach. Just knowing this can give you the ability to control it to some degree.

Is Your Hunger Actually Coming From Your Belly?

Do this to find out if you are really hungry or eating for some other purpose? The next time you go to eat, stop and stand still for a minute. Think about which part of your body is demanding attention. Where are you feeling hungry? Where’s it coming from?

You can ask yourself, “Where is this hungry feeling actually coming from? Where’s it located in the body?” Place your hand over the area that is “communicating” to you. If you put your hand on your stomach, then you are probably physically hungry. But, if you place your hand on your head, heart, or somewhere else, then you’re eating to satisfy a different need.

Rate Your Hunger Level

The next time you decide it’s time for a snack or meal, take a minute to consider your hunger level. If you were to rate how physically hungry you are, with 1 being absolutely starving, 5 being satisfied, and 10 being completely full, how hungry are you right now? If your hunger ranks between 1 and 4, then it is time to eat. If your rating is 5 or higher, then you are not eating for physical reasons, so ask yourself “What am I trying to fulfill instead?”

When You’re Craving Specific Foods

If you’re hungry for a specific food, especially if that food is high in fat, salt, or sugar, then you’re likely not eating for any physical need. After all, physical hunger is about nutrition, so if you are hungry, then a healthy salad or piece of fruit will satisfy your desires. But, if your hunger is demanding chocolate, french fries, or some other indulgence, then you shouldn’t eat to satisfy your cravings. Find out what the real issue is.

You Suddenly Feel Hungry

Physical hunger comes on very slowly, building over time as your belly empties and your physical need sets in. Emotional or mental hunger often strikes without warning, hitting you with an urgency that demands attention and focus. If you find that you are suddenly starving without any notice, ask yourself “What just happened to trigger this intense need?” “What preceded this change in my hunger?” Often, this will give you a clue about the real source of your hunger.

Your Hunger Just Disappears Without Food

If you feel like eating not long after your last meal, your hunger may be more mental than physical. You still have food in your stomach so it’s not very likely you still have physical nutritional needs? Before eating anything, sit quietly and reflect. Feel your hunger for a little while.

Rate your feeling. Is your stomach still rumbling or achy? Do you still feel hunger pangs?

If so, then you may need more to eat. But, wait at least 20 minutes and see how you feel. It’s not that long and I’m certain you won’t starve. It’s worth it to not overeat, right?

If, after that time, you still feel empty or like you need more food, then it’s okay to eat more. But most of the time, just waiting for a little while will be all you need to feel full again.

Learning to differentiate between physical and mental or emotional hunger can help you to resist your cravings and get your eating under control. It’s the key to releasing yourself from the emotional patterns that guide your eating and enables you to focus on the nutrition your body needs and deserves.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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