The Difference Between Emotional and Physical Hunger
Being mindful of what you eat is important, especially when following a diet to lose weight. However, it’s common in today’s society to see people eat simply to relieve stress or to deal with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom.
Identifying what makes you feel hungry can help your diet work. Here are the notable differences between emotional and physical hunger and what you can do to be more mindful of the food you eat.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Stress eating, also known as emotional eating, occurs when you eat food to fulfill your emotional needs instead of your physical needs. You might order a pizza when you’re bored or reach for the pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down. This kind of hunger tends to start suddenly, can only be satisfied when you feel full, and is felt mostly in your head.
Using food as a reward is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you eat to cope with your negative emotions,it becomes a problem that needs to be addressed.
Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that made you want to eat are still there. It’s important to identify these emotions and find a healthy way to address them, such as by going to therapy, eating mindfully, or actively working towards bettering yourself.
What Is Physical Hunger?
Physical hunger is your body telling you that it needs nutrition. It’s easy to notice because it starts gradually and is often felt from within your stomach. Compared to emotional eating, you’re usually open to a variety of foods instead of being fixated on only one type.
Eating a normal amount of food is often enough to take care of your physical hunger. This can include eating a salad and salmon for lunch or other nutritious foods that provide your body with the fuel it needs.
How To Stop Stress Eating
The first step in addressing emotional eating is identifying that you are emotionally eating. This can be done by asking yourself a series of questions, such as:
- Do you eat when you’re full or not hungry?
- Do you eat to feel better?
- Do you eat until you feel stuffed?
- Do you use food as a reward?
- Do you feel powerless around food?
- What places, feelings, or situations make you want to eat?
Once identified, you can find other ways to feed those feelings instead of using food. This can include exercising when you feel anxious, reading a book when you’re bored, or calling someone dear to you when you feel lonely.
Be Mindful Of Your Eating Habits
Better eating habits start with mindfulness. Choose vegetables and fruits over processed foods. This helps cut down on unneeded calories and feeds your body with food that has nutrition and fiber in it.
Mindfulness is also important when you’re shopping. It’s easier to say no to a pint of ice cream when you don’t buy it in the first place. Instead, buy food such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, or other natural options that provide adequate nutrition.
From there, start eating small portions and take small bites of your meal. This helps you appreciate the taste of your food while fully enjoying each bite of your meal. It also helps you eat slower and gives your body the opportunity to let you know that it’s full sooner.
Eating Properly Is Important
Eating a balanced diet and being mindful of your eating habits is often enough for many to feel better about what they eat. However, it can be difficult to know where to start for many who have struggled with their weight.