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Physical Hunger vs Emotional Hunger

Physical Hunger / Emotional Hunger

Know the difference.

We all know that feeling when we are finished at work, you get home and you’re feeling hungry. Not “ready for tea” hungry but just after a little something to pass the next 60 minutes until you actually start tea.

Or, when someone offers you a biscuit with your cup of tea at work, ohhhh is that a box of doughnuts on the table because of Sharron’s birthday?

These are all examples of emotional eating.

Emotional eating doesn’t have to mean that you are sat in a ball of tears or you have just received some bad news. Emotional eating is the act of consuming food when your body doesn’t require the energy being supplied. Emotional eating can follow on from normal meals as well and I would put a number of 100% of us doing this at some point.

What do I mean by that? Let me give you a couple of examples…

1. You go out for a meal with friends, family or work colleagues. You order yourself a meal and because this is more of a special occasion you decide not to track the calories for this meal. That’s fine….however the waiter collects the plates and asks if anyone wants a desert. You know you shouldn’t have one so the common phrase. “are you having one?” or “I will if you are” comes out. It is important to understand that you are not eating due to being physically hungry but instead eating on emotional impulses.

2. Your long-term partner has just broken up with you, but never fear a group of friends are on the way over with a film and plenty of chocolate and other sweet treats to “make you feel better”. Ok, there are studies that show foods like chocolate have the ability to raise your mood. But these studies do not say eat as much chocolate as you can before being sick.

3. You’ve worked a long day. You get home and the partner too has had a tough day at the office…… Takeaway? One of you will ask and before you know it you have the leaflet out for KFC and you are picking your poison. Now going to KFC (other takeaway places are available) is not the emotional part, but the amount you order is. Rather than going for a moderate sixed meal you go for a large meal with 8 separate pieces of deep fried chicken, with chips, a side oh go on then…and ill have some additional chicken. That there is emotional hunger. You get so excited about the food that you forget what you actually need and that all this food will in no doubt make you feel sick and in some cases be needing another pack of toilet rolls.

So lets move on to Physical Hunger…

Physical hunger is that feeling when your body is craving actual food…. No hang on, let’s put this a better way.

Our bodies need ENERGY to move around and we get this energy from consuming foods and drinks in the measurement of calories. We learn through calorie counting the amount of calories our bodies need to lose, maintain or gain weight each day. The heavier we are the more energy we need, the more muscular we are the more energy we need, the younger we are the more energy we need. There are so many factors to this figure that no 2 people will be the same.

You will find (especially in a calorie deficit) that your body will have times where it will be making grumbling noises around your tummy and the feeling of “hunger” will strike. Well what if I told you that the same receptacle in your body which tell you that you are hungry are the same ones that are asking for hydration. Yet we always dive for the food.

The way I explain “hunger pains” to my clients are like this.

Your body needs energy to move which it will take from the foods that you eat. If you are eating to much then your body will store the excess energy into fat stores, just for a later date. Now when we start eating less than our bodies need during the day (calorie deficit) then our bodies will need addition energy to help it through the day. So, where can it get this energy from? Well remember those fat stores we mentioned just now?

Those fat stores are now being chewed away on by your body to ensure that it has enough energy to keep it moving throughout the day. The reason this feels like hunger is because it is not something that you have ben used to. These “hunger pains” will come when dieting but there are ways that you can control them. Below are some simple steps to reduce these feelings while still reaching your goals.

1. Keep your calorie deficit as small as possible. The smaller your calorie deficit the smaller the change will feel on your body meaning that these pains will not be as severe. (yes the smaller the deficit the slower your weight change will be, but the more likely you are to continue)

2. Keep drinking water. Once you get these feelings grab yourself a glass of H20 and sip on it.

3. Plan your day out so that there isn’t a huge amount of time between your meals.

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