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Emotional or Physical Hunger?

Most of us realize our desire for a particular food can mask an unmet emotional need. Perhaps we need a good cry or a hug and instead we find ourselves opening the refrigerator, as if that chocolate milk will suffice.

How can we tell the difference between emotionally based hunger and genuine hunger?

In the book Think Thin, Be Thin, authors Doris Wild Helmering and Dianne Hales offer these cues:

Physical Hunger

Emotional Hunger

Builds gradually Develops suddenly
Strikes below the neck
(e.g., growling stomach)
Above the neck (e.g., a taste for ice cream)
Occurs several hours after a meal Unrelated to time
Goes away when full Persists despite fullness
Eating leads to feeling of satisfaction Eating leads to guilt and shame

It’s important to ask yourself, “What kind of hunger am I feeling?” Slowly but surely, you’ll begin to recognize the differences between physical and emotional hunger.

Often that subtle awareness alone is enough to stop you from looking inside your kitchen pantry for some cookie love and ice cream hugs.