• Emma Green

Emotional vs physical hunger


Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think that emotionally eating is inherently bad. Occasionally treating yourself to some chocolate or a cookie when you are feeling like shit is fine! Alternatively, celebrating a happy occasion with cake is also totally cool. What I think it is important is being aware of whether you're experiencing emotional hunger or physical hunger so you can respond appropriately. Here is how to tell the difference: ⠀ 1. Speed of onset: Emotional hunger tends to come on quickly, unlike physical hunger which slowly builds up. Sometimes if you are really busy you might forget that you're physically hungry and then it feels sudden but in reality, it had been coming on over time, it's just you didn't notice! ⠀ 2. Emotions: Typically emotional eating is associated with negative feelings, such as stress or anxiety. Occasionally, it is also linked with positive ones, such as at Christmas or birthdays. In contrast, physical hunger tends to be associated with neutral feelings. If we get too hungry though, this can lead to ‘hanger’ so this isn't a hard and fast rule. ⠀ 3. Specific vs general: Emotional eating tends to involve particular foods, like desserts or comfort foods. We don't tend to want any food at these times, the craving tends to be very specific. In contrast, when we experience physical hunger, anything sounds good. You might also notice that foods taste a lot better when you are really hungry.

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