Do you ever feel bored and therefore feel the need to eat? Do you simply eat because what you see looks delicious and not because you are hungry? Do you stress eat? While hunger is something that we are all familiar with, we don’t always know why are we hungry or what are we hungry for.Hunger is our body’s way of putting forward a demand. Understanding the kind of hunger that you feel is very essential to attend to it appropriately and make mindful eating decisions. This helps us feel our body with what the body is asking for. This might sound “obvious” to many of us, however, there lies a big difference between what your body is asking for vs what you want to feed your body.To understand what our body truly needs, we must differentiate between the kind of hunger that we feel. Yes, you read it correctly, our body does feel different types of hunger and these could be classified into 6 types!

OLFACTORY/VISUAL HUNGER

Sometimes, we feel like eating just because something that we see or smell feels so delicious. This kind of hunger paints an impression of the taste of the food in our minds and makes us crave that food. For instance,imagine that you are walking past a restaurant and you smell fresh pizza, you look inside and see a poster with a close-up shot of a loaded pizza slice with cheese oozing out of its crust...It is but natural that we start thinking about this and the more we think about it, the more our mind is set on having this for our next meal. The urge that the mind develops makes one believe that they need to taste what we just saw/smelt.

How to deal with this?

When you confront a situation similar to this the next time, take a moment and think if you are really hungry or just tempted? You can also train your mind not to absorb everything that your eyes have seen, however, to eat mindfully you must eat what is in your mind to satisfy that hunger. Now, if you feel you are just tempted then go ahead and have a slice of pizza and enjoy it. Treat yourself instead of taking a guilt trip and enjoy this food with all your senses.Eat slowly and try to absorb how the food looks like, how the food smells like, how it tastes in your mouth when you chew it and how it feels in the back of your throat. Wait for a few seconds to sense the aftertaste. Treat the entire experience positively rather than stuffing it into your mouth rapidly and mindlessly. You are more likely to give up less to such temptations when you treat this experience in this manner rather than looking at it with guilt.You might wonder how is this even helpful? Well, when your mind is set on a particular food that you see/smell, it is best to satisfy that as that’s the only we that you can get your mind off it and concentrate on other things.

MOUTH HUNGER

When we do not truly experience the food that we eat and end up consuming too much too often, we can condition our mouth to expect food frequently. The mouth, therefore, starts expecting a range of different textures and tastes. It mostly happens when you taste a bit of something and you feel like eating more and more of it. This is the formula that several food manufacturing companies use to get us addicted to those crispy, spicy deep-fried snacks – the cheesier, the crunchier, the more complex the flavour, the happier our mouths are. We all consciously or unconsciously entertain our “bored” mouths by eating.Many people’s aversion to raw food is a prime example of this social conditioning of mouth hunger. Generating greater awareness and a sense of open curiosity around the flavours and textures in our mouths as we eat can help satisfy our mouth hunger.

How to deal with this?

It is believed that mindful chewing can help you tackle this type of hunger. When you chew your food more, the more likely you are to be satisfied by it as you take longer to appreciate the tastes and the textures present in it. Chewing food a couple of times and swallowing it will only make you eat more. This is a perfect situation for you to start thinking about how much do you really need to eat to feel satisfied by asking yourself this question after every couple of bites.

STOMACH HUNGER/ HABIT-BASED HUNGER

How do you know that you are hungry? When your stomach rumbles? Well, this can be misleading as the stomach never truly tells you when you are hungry. Many nutritionists believe that the stomach never really tells you that you are hungry. We rather condition the stomach to be hungry at particular times. We must eat when the body is hungry instead of eating just because “it is time to eat”.

How to deal with this?

The next time you feel your stomach rumbling, rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how hungry are you, with 1 being completely starved and with 10 being extremely stuffed. Do this once before you start a meal and then during the meal. Stop eating when your stomach feels comfortably full. It’s easier to tell when you’re full when you slow down instead of mindlessly eating the contents of your plate.

CELLULAR HUNGER/ NUTRITIONAL HUNGER

If you ever observe, you might notice that babies exactly know when they want to eat. Small children, in fact, also know what kinds of food their bodies actually need if they are salt depleted or deficient in a certain type of mineral. For instance, have you noticed how a few children sometimes eat chalk? Studies show that it is related to a deficiency of zinc and iron.  Cellular hunger is concerned with what the body needs rather than what we want to eat. Yet as we grow, we get conflicting messages from parents, peers, the media, advertisers and mirrors, then we tune out the needs of our bodies.

How to deal with this?

Listen to your body! Our bodies send signals (cravings) for the minerals and nutrients that it needs. Having a balanced diet is very important as the essential elements – water, salt, protein etc. satisfy cellular hunger. Sometimes, we interpret thirst as hunger too! So, before you start snacking try having some water or a hot beverage and reassess your hunger.

HEART HUNGER: EMOTIONAL OR COMFORT-SEEKING HUNGER

When you are feeling down and frustrated, you might want to eat food that is easy to eat. Emotional eating of comfort foods is often linked to feeling unworthy, down on yourself and even unloved. In this sense, it can be seen as trying to fill an emotional void relating to your heart and feelings. We eat when we’re lonely, when someone close is no longer with us or when words fail.

How to deal with this?

Emotional eating can be the most difficult hunger to overcome. Therefore, we must consider how we’re feeling before we snack or drink anything. Are we truly hungry or trying to self-soothe? When you become aware of heart hunger, allow yourself to indulge but buy a very small portion and eat slowly. Imagine sending the love to your heart and enjoy the comfort it brings. No food can ever satisfy heart hunger. Instead, we must learn to nourish our hearts. Talk to someone you love. Play with a child or pet. Exercise. Create something. Give a gift. Try eating slowly and being appreciative for what you have and all the people who had a hand in getting the food to your plate.

SOCIAL HUNGER

“Have more of this”, “Come on, I made this for you, why haven’t you finished the rice yet”Do you often hear this while having a meal with your family or friends? Getting together with your family and friends over a meal is a great way to bond and socialize. But, it can also lead to overeating as you might end up eating as long as they do, without actually acknowledging that you are full. You might also feel sensory/ mouth hunger given the variety and what others are eating.

How to deal with this?

As tough as it might sounds, we need to learn to say no. It is important to send the message that you are full and eating any more food can cause you discomfort. Instead of allowing food to dominate your attention, take the time to bond with those around you.

THINGS TO DO THE NEXT TIME YOU EAT

Listen to your body to understand the kind of hunger that you are experiencing: For the next 3 days, simply record every single thing you eat and the time when you ate it. Note the type of hunger that you felt when you ate those items

  • Write what you ate at that time, you need not get into the details of the portion size

Notice patterns: See if you feel certain types of hunger during a certain time, at certain placesEat mindfully: Take time to enjoy your food and experience its textures

NOT SURE WHAT TYPE OF "HUNGER" ARE YOU FEELING? TAKE THIS QUIZ

Posted 
Sep 13, 2020
 in 
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