WHY ARE YOU HUNGRY? It’s bad enough having to control what goes into your mouth when the hunger pangs hit, but did you know there are different types of hunger? It’s not always easy to know if you are really hungry or if you are looking for food because you are bored or stressed out.
Identifying what type of hunger you are feeling is a good starting point in being able to control how you satiate it.
1. Real hunger
This is pretty much the only type of hunger you should entertain. You’ll know it from the physical symptoms such as shakiness caused by low blood sugar, a headache, low energy, or a growling stomach. It’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s time for you to eat. The problem lies in waiting too long to feed this type of hunger so that when you finally do try and fill the void, it’s with anything you can find.
The solution: Always have healthy, satisfying snacks on hand.
2. Distracted hunger
We all love munching on something while we watch our favorite show but have you ever noticed how much more you eat when you are not paying attention? A 2013 review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating when distracted prompted people to consume more calories in the moment—as well as hours later.
The Solution: If you are hungry, eat something before you sit down to watch TV. While you are watching, keep your hands busy doing something else like folding laundry.
3. Bored hunger
Most people are guilty of checking the fridge the minute boredom occurs. Eating takes up time and gives you something to do but your body doesn’t need food at that moment.
The solution: Instead of desperately trying to fill the time, why not see it as an opportunity to relax? Make a list of all the ways you enjoy unwinding and the next time boredom strikes, pick one and do that instead!
4. Hangry hunger
You know that grumpy, angry feeling you get when you really hungry? It happens because your blood sugar levels have dipped causing irritability. Studies show that people fight more often when they are in the ‘hangry state’. When you’re in a mood like this, reaching for a sugary snack might seem like a good idea but if you can recognize what you are feeling, you are more prepared to control your impulse reaction.
The solution: Eat a healthy carb, like a piece of fruit or a few whole grain crackers, to restore blood sugar levels.
5. Stress hunger
When people are stressed, they tend to ‘reward’ themselves with indulgent treats to compensate for the negative feelings. Studies have also shown that when stress hits, people tend to eat more, even once they are full.
The solution: Channel your energy differently by working out instead of pigging out. Not only will you save yourself the unnecessary calories but exercise also acts as a natural stress reliever. Win-win!
More often than not, the solution lies in correct identification and forward planning. Having healthy snacks on hand will minimize the temptation to grab unhealthy snacks and leave you feeling empowered and more in control!