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What Is The Difference Between Emotional Hunger & Physical Hunger?

What Is The Difference Between Emotional Hunger & Physical Hunger?
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Are you an emotional eater?

Do you know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger? Are you an emotional eater? While the signs may seem identical there are a number of traits that distinguish emotional hunger from physical hunger. Learning their unique characteristics will enable you to take charge of your eating habits; this knowledge and awareness will assist you in preventing emotional eating episodes.

Emotional hunger comes on fast and is in reaction to your feelings; it’s not about the food but it’s the only thing on your mind. If you’re inclined to eat for emotional reasons any feeling that is difficult to process may trigger the urge to eat. For example, you may feel sad and turn to food for relief, or you may feel excited and react by eating. Recognize that it’s not the feeling itself that sparks the impulse to eat; it’s the failure to let the feeling be present without desensitizing it with food.

Physical hunger builds a little at a time and comes about because your body needs energy; it is biologically based and connected to your blood sugar levels. If you’re tuned into your body you may notice cues; a growling stomach, feeling grouchy, the inability to think well or focus, fatigue, or a headache. Food is something you wish for, but it can wait.

Emotional hunger is unrelated to the time since your last meal and you will notice that you crave specific foods like ice cream, potato chips, or cookies.  Emotional eating episodes are a vicious cycle. You eat because you want to feel better, and initially you feel better because food numbs your feelings, then guilt replaces the feelings that triggered the compulsion to eat in the first place. The cycle continues and your hunger persists despite fullness.

Physical hunger occurs several hours after a meal and you’re open to many good choices. Foods like fruits and vegetables are appealing to your grumbling stomach; because you are satisfied you can make a conscious choice to stop eating by responding to the sensation of fullness. Eating to quell physical hunger fulfills a necessary need and there is no guilt because you know eating nourishes your body.

If you battle with emotional eating, understand it’s not about finding the right nutritional plan. It’s about identifying your problems and directing your strength and desire for health and wellness toward solutions. Ask yourself “What do I feel?” and “What do I need to do to feel better?” Engage in healthy pastimes before you choose to eat due to emotional hunger. Burn some energy by being active, take a walk or exercise, try something relaxing like reading or taking a bath, practice yoga and breathing exercises.

You will feel better when you take the steps necessary to help you acknowledge and handle your feelings. Keep in mind, if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. It’s imperative to remove anger, regret, resentment, guilt, blame, and worry; then watch your health and life improve.

For daily health tips, follow Judy Molinaro on Facebook, or sign up to receive her monthly newsletter. Take a deeper dive and purchase her wellness guide Eat Like You Give a Damn.

This article was originally published at Fit You Wellness Solutions. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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