Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | June 18, 2010

“Physical” vs “Emotional” Hunger

I wrote a LONG post a year ago on Mindful Eating & have decided to break this post down to a few of its main topics. I posted this on my Facebook page before I had a blog. Hope you enjoy! More to come on this topic!

“Our food choices reflect the ongoing harmony with ourselves, the world, all of creation, and the Divine.” Conscious Eating, Gabriel Cousens, M.D.

Listen to your hunger – I hear this a lot – but what does this mean? Seems simple right? I wanted to de-construct that sentence more to see if I could find clues. Simple cliché sentences often are simple but understood differently, thought of differently, and treated differently.

Hunger: the two definitions that stood out to me are: 1) a compelling need or desire for food 2) a strong or compelling desire or craving

So the simple breakdown I can see is “Physical” and “Emotional” Hunger

Symptoms of “Physical Hunger”

  • gurgling stomach
  • gnawing feeling in stomach
  • uncomfortable feeling in stomach
  • light headed
  • shaky: hands tremble/shake, legs feel wobbly
  • headache
  • irritability

Symptoms of “Emotional Hunger”

  • wanting to eat in response to an emotional situation
  • can have feelings in the chest, rather than stomach
  • hunger in response to anger, anxiety, boredom, feelings of loneliness
  • Feeling tension only relieved by eating
  • feeling numb while eating, as if on autopilot: may not taste, smell, enjoy food
  • never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
  • desire to control eating habits, weight, emotions, people, etc.
  • opening the fridge and wondering “why am I here, I’m not even hungry”
  • and the list goes on and on and on and on……..

Mindfulness and Intuitiveness: I am no expert in the terms, the differences, the details. But with a lot of articles, news on this lately – what do these words mean?

Mindful: attentive, aware, or careful
Intuitive: perceiving by intuition, as a person or the mind; innate, inborn, natural
– with the overwhelming amount of literature out there I found it amazing that we need this much guidance with something so natural; makes me wonder more how we got so far off track, what role does society, culture, conditioning, programing, etc. have on us? (A question  way to large for the scope of this article)

Mindful: attentive, aware, or careful
Intuitive: perceiving by intuition, as a person or the mind; innate, inborn, natural
– with the overwhelming amount of literature out there I found it amazing that we need this much guidance with something so natural; makes me wonder more how we got so far off track, what role does society, culture, conditioning, programming, etc. have on us? (A question way to large for the scope of this article)

Listening to understand Hunger Cues

  1. Distinguish between Physical or Emotional hunger: when you look at the list above: where do you fall right now
  2. Are you eating because its mealtime – or because you are actually hungry? A study by Schachter & Gross in 1968 showed that some volunteers ate more when they thought it was beyond their regular dinner hour; other volunteers ate the same number no matter what time they thought it was. Their conclusion: not the stomach but the mind of certain volunteers determined their feelings of hunger.
  3. Are you ignoring your body when it’s really hungry? Honor your hunger.
  4. Reject the diet mentality: how can you begin to listen to your body if your listening to the multi-billion dollar industry? Get angry and fight the lies in the media (media literacy); learning to listen to yourself begins with questioning and rejecting the conditioning and programing you read, hear, see, etc.
  5. Workbooks can help: The Appetite Awareness Workbook: How to Listen to Your Body And Overcome Bingeing, Overeating, & Obsession With Food
  6. Do you need an RD, therapist, nutrition/health/life coach?
  7. “The Hunger-Satiety Rating Scale” from Why Weight? A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth.
  8. Learn to recognize your eating patterns, whether overeating, bingeing
  9. Listening & honoring your hunger will lead to your body indicating it is time to eat, and you can choose foods you love and take the time to enjoy them.

Research: Myers & Crowther, 2007 (Kent State Univ) “The relationship between self-objectification and disordered eating attitudes was partially mediated by interoceptive awareness. Results revealed that interoceptive awareness may best be captured by a measure than includes lack of awareness of both hunger and satiety and emotional states”

I plan to post more on this soon!

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Responses

  1. This was just what I needed to read! Thanks for such an informative post:)

  2. […] wrote a great post about the difference between “physical” and “emotional” hunger on Voice in Recovery this week, something I pretty much need to print out and hang on my wall and […]

  3. […] to your hunger” and tell which you’re feeling, it’s not always that easy.  Voice in Recovery has written an excellent breakdown of the two sorts of hunger and how to tune in more effectively […]


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