Difference between Mental and Physical Hunger

Difference Between Mental And Physical Hunger

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Have you ever been in a situation when you are bored at home and don’t know what to do, so you just go and eat whatever is in sight? Well, that may be ‘head hunger’, and is known as emotional eating. It is not an actual physiological response of the body that is asking for more food, but we merely do it to seek comfort.

There are two types of hunger and all of us have experienced them. One kind of hunger is mental and the other is physical or ‘real hunger’. The problem is figuring out how to differentiate between all of them because these hunger pangs feel the same most of the times. Here are some questions that will help you in asking yourself if you actually need food for nourishing your body or if it is an emotional tug.

A photo of a bowl of salad.

Satisfaction vs. Relief

Do you want to eat to provide fuel to your body or are you doing it because you crave something? One way to figure this out is to put your hand on your stomach. If it is rumbling then your body needs food. If it is not, it may be that your brain is feeling bored.

Nutritious vs. Palatable

Pay attention to the kind of food you are eating. Are you opting for nutrient-dense foods or are you simply opting for salty and sugary foods? If you are actually hungry, you will eat any kind of food to quieten your rumbling stomach, however, if it is a mental hunger, you will be craving specific kinds of food.

Emotional vs. Physical Hunger

Try to find out if you are eating food because you are actually hungry, or because you are feeling a spectrum of different emotions like sad or frustrated? If you are feeling down, eat a fruit because it helps to de-stress and helps in curbing the emotional eating aspect.

A photo of a bowl of healthy food.

Lifelong vs. Transient

Try to find out if you have a healthy relationship with food or if you feel guilty after having it. Before you get down to eating, ask yourself how you feel after you take the first bite. If you feel negative emotions, stop eating that food and opt for something else. If you experience this emotion with even healthy foods, you may be suffering from an eating disorder and might have to see a psychologist. Make sure that you are mindful when you are eating food, and for that you need to do the following steps:

  • Sit down
  • Slowly chew your food
  • Sense the food
  • Savour and enjoy
  • Smile while you are eating
A photo of a woman with an apple in one and and chocolate in the other.

Tips That Will Help You in Determining If You Are Actually Hungry

Here are some of the tips that will help you out for sure:

  • Pay attention to the time that is when you ate last and whether it is time to take the next meal or not.
  • Have large amounts of water in order to stay hydrated.
  • Think before eating and pay attention to the body cues.
  • Enjoy small snacks throughout the day.
  • Write down what you are eating.

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