It's important to pay attention to when you are hungry. Our body tells us when to eat! We should listen. But you should always take it further... Where are you hungry? Why are you hungry? There are different ways to be hungry.
The two main types are physical hunger and emotional hunger, and both are equally common. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between the two in the moment, but we must. Here are some ways to tell the two apart.
Are you craving fast food? Ice cream? Something specific? Are you craving it NOW? A number of things can lead to emotional hunger. Those things, of course, are emotions. It could be stress, sadness, or simply boredom.
Some cases of emotional hunger are powerful urges, while others can cause you to grab a snack purely by instinct or habit. This is why I tell my clients to just wait. Mindful eating means we don't grab something off the counter just because we're walking by. Everything we eat should be intentional, and it should be to fulfill our body's physical needs.
This occurs when your stomach is empty. Your brain will think of food, your stomach will growl, and after a while you can become irritable or tired.
Physical hunger does not call for any particular type of food to fulfill. It really shouldn't be connected to any emotional feelings. For this reason, you can use your best judgement to prepare a healthy meal of exactly the size you need. Additionally, you won't feel guilty after eating. Physical hunger builds up gradually. You remember when the last time you ate was, right? Sometimes, our best indicator of which type of hunger we're experiencing is keeping an eye on the clock.
When you're being mindful, these two types of hunger are easy to tell apart. Just take that one extra moment before you grab a snack or prepare a late dinner to ask yourself why. If the why is that you're physically hungry... Bon appétit! :)