Are You Hungry or Just Bored: Know The Difference

Many people are struggling with eating boredom, or eating to spend time, even if they're not really hungry.

Boredom and other forms of emotional eating can actually lead to excess weight gain.

What is Hunger?

As it involves a complex interplay of hormones, biochemical processes, and physical reactions, hunger can be hard to define. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of physical and psychological hunger.

It is possible to define physical hunger as the drive of your body to eat for survival, while psychological hunger is based more on cravings or external indications.


Physical hunger

This type is real hunger, in which your body needs food so that more energy can be generated. Your stomach feels empty with this type of hunger and may rumble. You may have hunger pangs as well. You may experience low blood sugar levels and feel weak, unfocused, or fatigued if you do not eat.

Psychological hunger

When you have a desire to eat but feel no physical signs that your body requires food, psychological hunger occurs. Despite feeling full from a meal, or a desire for a particular item or type of food, it may manifest as a craving for dessert. Compare this feeling to physical hunger, which any food can satisfy at all.

Psychological hunger triggers

Whereas physical hunger is caused by an empty stomach and driven by the need for more energy from your body, many factors play a role in psychological hunger.

Boredom eating can happen not only as a result of boredom, but also as a result of various triggers described below. Stress, poor sleep, and simple access to junk foods, for instance, may make you more likely to eat out of boredom.

Here are some of the most common triggers of psychological hunger.

  • Boredom

  • Stress

  • Socialization

  • Advertising

  • Poor sleep

  • Hyperpalatable foods (highly processed items like potato chips, candy, and fast food)

How to know if you’re truly hungry

True thirst and hunger feel different from boredom.

Keep in mind that you need to fuel your body periodically to preserve your health and provide energy to get you through your day.

When they try to lose weight, some people miss meals, which is often counterproductive, as waiting too long between meals can lead to overeating. As such, eating when you're hungry is vital, not waiting until you're ravenous.

The appetite is possibly psychological if you have recently eaten a healthy meal and are craving more food. However, you're probably hungry and need to eat a meal or snack if you haven't eaten in a few hours and are showing symptoms of physical hunger.

Hunger and Thirsts

Mild hunger pangs, a sensation of emptiness in your stomach, and stomach rumbling can be the early signs of true hunger. These signs can vary from person to person, however.

In addition, a dry mouth or mild itch in your throat can sometimes accompany true physical thirst, as well as an urge to drink some drink, including plain water.

Psychological hunger, on the other hand, can manifest as a desire for a particular drink, such as soda.

Similarly, if you want and don't consume a specific food until you can have it, you're likely to experience a psychological desire, not real hunger. True physical hunger is far less selective, especially if you reach a point of urgent hunger.

Try the following methods to determine if you're really hungry.

Do a mental check-in

Trust yourself to know how your body feels when you’re truly hungry. While you should try to refrain from eating if you’re not truly hungry, you shouldn’t wait until you’re extremely hungry either.

Drink a glass of water

Sometimes, a thirst cue may feel like physical hunger. Try drinking a glass of water if you’re second-guessing whether you’re truly hungry. If you still feel hungry afterward, go ahead and eat

To Sum It Up

It's easy to eat, even if you don't feel hungry, particularly when you're bored. Habitual eating boredom is harmful, as it can lead to unnecessary weight gain.

Before you eat to check whether you still have physical hunger, do a mental check-in to prevent boredom from feeding.

Furthermore, the above techniques will help you manage psychological hunger and minimize boredom and other forms of emotional eating.

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