Holistic Nutrition & Prevention

Emotional hunger or physical hunger?

By Crystal Nash, CHC

Our body has a diverse dialogue we are very familiar with. The way I want to teach you, is how to tell the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.

How we choose to respond to this can either sustain our wellbeing or it can create chaos.

Emotional Hunger vs Physical Hunger

Emotional hunger means you turn to food, either to avoid uncomfortable emotions or to heighten pleasurable ones. You eat based on how you feel instead of what your body needs.

Examples of emotional hunger (FEELINGS):

  • Eating for comfort or out of loneliness or sadness
  • Eating from boredom
  • Eating to try to soothe anxious or depressed feelings
  • Eating to fill an aching heart

Physical hunger means you eat when your body signals that you are in fact, hungry. And it means that you stop eating when you are satisfied and before you are uncomfortably full.

Examples of physical hunger (SENSATIONS):

  • Stomach growls and gets that hollow hungry sensation
  • Body feels weak and energy goes down
  • Blood sugar gets low and you feel shaky
  • You feel lightheaded or faint

You may be asking, “What will learning to listen to my body do for me?”

One way is it will free you from being a slave to food!

What that means for you is that you’ll feel more in control of your eating and less dependent on food to “help” your moods and emotions.

By listening to your physical hunger signals, you can determine how hungry or full you really are. With practice, you’ll activate your inner genius and be able to pinpoint where your body is at any given moment.

By doing this, you train yourself to stop eating before you are too full and to not turn to food when you are not actually hungry but are in fact, bored, upset, anxious or depressed.

This can become a vicious cycle…so let’s look at how you can end that cycle and have some fun while doing it!

How to end the cycle.

  1. See if you can be the slowest eater at the table — no one has to know you’re doing it. Or get everyone involved and make it a game.
  2. Periodically check in with yourself throughout your meal. When you’re energized and satiated honor that by completing the meal. Use an end-of-meal ritual, like putting your napkin over your plate or ordering hot tea and fresh fruit. This symbolizes completion of the meal and decreases the temptation to return to your plate.
  3. Create a list of non-food related activities. Refer to this list when your emotional hunger wants you to turn to food.

What do you do now?

Practice creating awareness and activating your inner genius in other areas of your body.

Ask, “what other areas are calling to me that I have been neglecting to hear?”

Once you start listening and taking action not only will your health increase, but so will your happiness.

Crystal Nash is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and creator of the blog, World Balance. She’s passionate about helping mothers become aware of what their bodies are truly calling for. She helps you develop your body wisdom to transcend your struggles and open up a whole new world of possibilities with your health.


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