If you often feel hungry, you are not alone!
This is one of the main questions that I have to answer with all of my clients and you will have to answer to as you learn to listen to your bodies cues.
First you should understand that there are many reasons to feel hungry. The most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry.
Your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.
But other times and possibly more often then you realize depending on where you are in your health journey, the hunger may not be physical hunger.
It may actually be a craving or an emotional trigger (SO COMMON).
These are the most common reasons why my clients eat too much when they first come to me.
When we sit down to discuss their habits usually they are suffering from a certain type of diet (usually extremely restrictive), stress (with work/family/health), or other things going on in life.
The thing I have to stress is that it’s EASY to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.
I used to suffer from the exact same mistakes before I learned to understand the feelings around my emotional eating so I want to share with you the difference between both of these types of hunger, and give you some tips how to figure out which is which.
Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger
Your “physical” hunger is regulated by hunger hormones. You don’t want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time. So, you’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.
Totally normal and healthy!
“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s based on a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery.
If left unchecked can result in binge eating, additional sadness/stress, using food as a coping mechanism!
So, here’s how to tell which is which.
Eight steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not
1 – The first thing you need to do is stop and evaluate. Always chowing down at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.
2 – Now that you’ve stopped. Pay attention to your body’s cues. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention.
3 – Have a big glass of water. Now observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion. So listen to your body and mind very deeply. At first this will take effort, but with practice and commitment it will become routine.
4 – If you realize that your feelings are the source. Acknowledge and observe them. They may just be needing comfort and recognition, even if they sound like they need food. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger. I am a huge believer in CHANGING YOUR STATE!
5 – If you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.
6 – Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger.
7 – If it’s physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite.
8 – Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.
The feelings of hunger happen for many MANY reasons.
Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then you need to eat!
Often, there is a psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry (most of us KNOW if this applies to us but have trouble identifying it in the moment).
But now you know my steps to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.
Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually physically needs (and not overdo it).
Recipe (Filling): Slow-Cooker Roast Beef and Potatoes
2 onions, sliced (do this and go to step 1 before preparing the rest of the ingredients)
4 lb beef roast
1 lb potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled & sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 dashes dried thyme or sage or parsley
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 dashes salt & pepper
Place a layer of sliced onion at the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the lid on and turn up to high; this will start caramelizing the onions while you wash and slice the rest of the ingredients.
When all ingredients are ready, take off slow cooker lid and add meat and the prepared vegetables, garlic, herbs, and spices.
Cook on high for 3 – 5 hrs, or on low for 6 – 8hrs, or until done.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can substitute different vegetables if you like. For example, you can use sweet potatoes in place of the regular potatoes; or parsnips instead of carrots.