Hunger, Emotional or Physical?

The difference between emotional and physical hunger must be understood before you can begin to recognize whether you are eating emotionally. Once you determine that you are eating emotionally, you can employ a great healthy diet habit to overcome your emotional eating.

Comfort Food

Healthy Meal

What Sounds Good? Comfort Food or a Healthy Meal? Answering this question is a clue to why you are eating!




It hits suddenly and you are starved

Comes on gradually and progressive

Craves specific foods and nothing else sounds good. An apple would not sound great. You would be looking for 4 Cs-candy, cookies, cakes, chips!

Different foods will satisfy. An apple will taste great.

Mouth and mind tasting the food

Stomach sensations like knowing, rumbling, emptiness and even pain

Urgent and you must eat right now

Patient and you need to eat but you can wait

Paired with an upsetting emotion or situation. Maybe your boss yelled at you, your kids are so evil or your spouse is in a bad mood!

Physical need not emotional. It has been 4 to 5 hours since your last meal, and you might be light headed and low in energy.

You might be eating mindlessly with no thought to healthful choices or quantity. No sense of control.

Deliberate choices and awareness of health and quantity. Control is there.

Does not stop when full by overeats to cover painful feelings.

Stops when full and satisfied.

Feels guilt and shame

Enjoys eating


When you check out this list you see that these two types of hunger are quite different and easily recognizable. Most of us eat 20% of the time for physical reasons, so there is much room for improvement. Emotional eating and cravings play a big part in the other 80% of the story. Great healthy diet habits will enable you to eat when physically prompted, and avoid cravings and emotional eating. This is the greatest lifestyle solution you can add to your life!

Go to Cravings

Go to Lifestyle Solutions

Go to Types of Emotional Eating

Return to Emotional Eating

Return from Hunger to Healthy Diet Habits Home Page

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