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Tiny Tummy Tips, Issue #008-- Physical Hunger vs Emotional Hunger
June 08, 2022

Physical Hunger vs Emotional Hunger: What's the Difference?

Tiny Tummy Tips, Issue #008 -- Physical Hunger vs Emotional Hunger

In This Issue

1) Physical Hunger
2) Emotional Hunger
3) Apple Test

I WANT to eat vs I NEED to eat are 2 very different things.

Next time you hear yourself thinking I’m SO hungry, take a moment to differentiate whether you’re experiencing physical hunger or emotional hunger.

What’s the difference?

Physical Hunger

Physical Hunger is …well...physical! You can FEEL it.

Signs of physical hunger are related to how long it’s been since the last time you ate. It comes on gradually, and the longer it’s been since you’ve last eaten, the stronger (and more) physical symptoms you may experience.

Early physical hunger may mean:
• Stomach growling
• Stomach pain
• Stomach feeling “empty”

But the longer it goes on:
• Low energy
• Irritable
• Cranky
• “Hangry”
• Headache
• Trouble concentrating/focusing
• Shaky
• Dizzy
• Nauseous

Physical hunger doesn’t go away. It intensifies with time. When you’re physically hungry, almost any food will suffice. Once you’re full, physical hunger is satisfied, and you don’t feel regret or shame when you’re done.

Emotional Hunger

“Head” hunger or emotional hunger on the other hand, comes from a thought: “I want to eat.” It usually comes on suddenly and feels very overwhelming and urgent.

You crave specific foods when you’re emotionally hungry…usually comfort foods like sugary snacks and junk foods. Nothing else will satisfy.

Emotional hunger doesn’t end once you’re full.

That’s because emotional hunger doesn’t originate in your stomach…it’s a craving that starts in your head when you’re:
• Bored
• Sad
• Mad
• Lonely
• Procrastinating
• Stressed

You can eat and eat and eat until you’re uncomfortably stuffed when you’re emotionally eating because you’re trying to satisfy something other than physical hunger.

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”

Emotional hunger usually leads to regret, guilt, and/or shame.

SO… Take a moment to ask yourself if you’re physically hungry or emotionally hungry each time you eat. If you’re unsure, take the “apple test.”

Apple Test

Think you’re hungry and not sure if it's physical or emotional?

Ask yourself if an apple would suffice.

When you’re physically hungry, an apple will sound delicious. If you’re emotionally hungry, not so much.

If another food “sounds” better than an apple…its likely emotional hunger rearing its ugly head.

So now you know!

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See you in the next issue!

In Health,

Suzette Kroll, RDN

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