Physical vs. Emotional Hunger

Physical and emotional hunger may be easily confused, but there are key differences between the two. Pay attention to how and when your hunger starts as well as how you feel after eating.


Physical hunger tends to...

  • Develops slowly over time
  • You crave a variety of food groups
  • You feel sensation of fullness and take it as a cue to stop eating
  • And you have no negative feelings about eating

Emotional hunger is likely if…

  • It comes on suddenly or abruptly 
  • You crave only certain foods
  • You may binge on food and never feel a sensation of fullness
  • Or you feel guilt or shame about eating

Food may help ease emotions in the moment, but addressing the feelings behind the hunger is important in the long term. Work to find alternative ways to deal with stress, like moving your body, reaching out to a friend or your nutrition coach for support, or try practicing mindful eating habits.


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