Hunger and appetite are not interchangeable terms. Some days you might just eat what you put on your plate, while other days you may struggle to feel full at all, reaching for anything in sight.
It is important to not mistake hunger for appetite, and to know the different kinds of hunger that you might experience. Hunger can be physical, or emotional, and related to nutritional needs, boredom or even stress.
Find out more about how different types of hunger affect us. Some think that there are 10 different types of hunger, and separate them into the following explanations:
1. Real Hunger
Real hunger is the kind of hunger that keeps your body alive! This hunger is the type that makes you feel weak and shaky, because of low blood sugar. You may get a headache or hear your stomach growling. If you wait until real hunger hits, you are going to be more likely to grab anything in sight, rather than make healthy choices. Keep healthy snacks in convenient places to avoid the problems when real hunger hits.
2. Bored Hunger
When you are bored, you are more likely to open the refrigerator to see what‘s inside just to see if anything seems to look good. If you realize that you are merely bored and looking for something to do, try to choose something other than eating. If you are just looking to relax then find a different way, like reading a book or taking a walk. Call an old friend to catch up. Just don’t walk to the fridge.
3. Afternoon Hunger
This is the kind of hunger that strikes in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner. Sometime around 3 p.m., many people experience hunger. This may be related to a drop in blood sugar after they digest their lunch. Keep healthy, protein filled snacks handy to fight the urge to binge during these times. Nuts, yoghurt, seed and protein bars can help you get through this kind of hunger.
4. Television Hunger
While watching television, many people reach for junk food snacks. It’s easy to forget how much you are eating when you are engaged in a riveting television program. Distracted eating leads to greater calorie consumption. Instead of eating while watching television and munching, take this opportunity to fill up on your water. And, don’t turn the tube on until after you have finished your meal and you are satisfied. Commercials for great looking junk food are hard enough when you are full, don’t let them hit you when you are hungry.
5. PMS Hunger
During times of PMS, it can be difficult to keep hunger in check. Just before and during your period, your hunger can increase. This is mainly due to cravings and increased appetite due to hormone changes. But if you pay closer attention to your actual hunger, you may find that you are merely craving certain items and that a very small amount may satisfy you without completely derailing your healthy lifestyle.
6. Angry Hunger
Many people find that they eat more when they are angry. Being angry can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate and dip very low, stimulating a hunger response. During these times, many will reach for sugary snacks, thinking that this might make them feel better. Making a healthy choice to regulate your blood sugar, like a lean protein, may make you feel much better instead.
7. Eye Hunger
This refers to the kind of hunger that comes from seeing food and wanting it, just because it is there. Suddenly, you set your sights upon a tray of cookies and now you want one, and cannot resist. Certainly, the occasional indulgence is acceptable, but you have the option to choose to not eat those cookies and either pass them by or choose a healthier snack. Be conscious of your decisions.
8. Stress Hunger
Choosing an unhealthy snack is a common method for dealing with stress. But, when you are feeling stressed, it can be even more important that you make healthy choices and keep your health a priority. Remember that you might be trying to lose weight or get your blood pressure to a healthy level. Eating unhealthy snacks just because you are stressed will only counteract your efforts. Try exercise or getting together with friends instead.
9. Head Hunger
For some strange reason, you want to eat, but you do not feel hungry. This kind of hunger often comes along when you are procrastinating or feeling like you need a break from work. Instead of eating, try taking a brisk walk or calling a friend for a quick chat, instead of reaching for a junky snack.
10. Celebration Hunger
When we have an important accomplishment or a special occasion, we often think of celebrating with food, especially desserts. One way that many connect with others is through food. Instead of using food to celebrate, opt for a day of shopping or some time at the spa to enjoy the company of friends and loved ones during special times.
Knowing the different types of hunger can help you to avoid eating when you might not really need to. Instead of reaching for the junk food, be aware of why you are eating and make the healthiest choices possible.
SOURCES: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20845434,00.html; http://www.weightwatchers.com.au/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=47681; Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net