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The 3 types of hunger and mindful eating

Your Healthy Weight

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment. When it comes to eating, this means paying your full attention to what you are eating. Mindful eating has a host of benefits but from a healthy weight perspective, it can help you become more aware of what, why and how you are eating.

One of the first steps in mindful eating is identifying different types of hunger and becoming aware of which type of hunger you are experiencing when you reach for food.

1. Stomach hunger

This is the traditional hunger we associate with a growling stomach. It is physiological response to having an empty stomach, low blood sugar levels, and the production of the ghrelin hormone . This type of hunger typically is felt in the stomach.

2. Emotional hunger

This is a hunger that often results from how we are feeling. When stress or certain emotions lead us to reaching for comfort foods, despite not being physically hungry or having just eaten a satisfying meal, this is a sure sign of emotional hunger. This type of hunger is not typically associated with stomach growling but rather feelings above the neck. When you eat to satisfy emotional hunger, you may not feel better afterwards.

3. Sensory hunger

This type of hunger often occurs when we see, smell, taste, touch or hear food. It is related to the senses and previous associations we may have with types of food. Sensory hunger is often associated with cravings for specific types of food like sweet, salty, creamy, or savoury. Often you can satisfy this type of hunger by eating some of the craved food.

A simple first step to being more mindful of your eating is to start checking in with yourself when feeling hungry and keeping a log of what type of hunger it is without judging yourself. By becoming more aware of your types of hunger you can start seeking out strategies to help you in the different situations.

The act of awareness can be helpful to give us time and space to consider alternative options, when faced with emotional hunger. Options such as going for a walk, taking deep breaths, or connecting socially. When it comes to sensory hunger, you can look for ways to satisfy the craving in a more healthful way or remove yourself from the situation and reduce the sensory exposure. Brushing your teeth or using mouthwash can be helpful with sensory hunger. By becoming more mindful when you eat you can be in the driver’s seat when it comes to knowing what, why and how you are eating.

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters.

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