Did you know that there are different types of hunger? No, we aren’t talking about your savoury or sweet moods. Dieticians often try to get clients to distinguish the difference between the types of hunger and here’s why.
Thanks to social media, the internet, TV and just about everywhere we go we are surrounded by advertisements for food, cafes or fast food outlets. We can order food straight to our door without even leaving the couch.
Food can do more than refuel our bodies. It can make us nostalgic, comfort us or simply help fulfil our cravings. Unfortunately, if you are trying to lose weight, all the above are not great reasons to chow down.
Let’s start by distinguishing the different types of hunger.
The hunger that is telling your body you need to stop and refuel. This is true hunger and is usually associated with a deep grumbling below the heart. It’s not because you are bored or watching tv. Dietitian Michelle Allen, refers to this as ‘mechanical hunger.’
Next, we have ‘aesthetic hunger.’ It could also be referred to as comfort eating, or a want of food (not necessarily a need). You may be stressed or bored but you don’t need to eat.
Finally, we have ‘chemical hunger.’ This hunger is said to be a result of a signal from your blood, not your stomach. Your body may be depleted of vitamins and minerals or glycogen (energy stores). It may have been because you’ve had a busy day and missed a meal, and you may feel light headed or weak.
So how do we avoid the ‘bad’ hunger?
- Eating small meals regularly will help to ensure smooth digestion and keep you feeling full without stuffing yourself.
- Try to determine what type of hunger you are feeling before you head to the fridge. Ask yourself, when did you last eat? What was your last meal?
- Avoid eating in front of the TV. Be conscious of every mouthful.
- Just because food is healthy, doesn’t mean it must be tasteless. It’s important to enjoy your food as well as use it to nourish your body. Find a selection of healthy meals that you genuinely like the taste of to avoid forcing a salad down every meal!
- Avoid sugary snacks at your office or at home. If it’s not in the cupboard there’s no risk of slipping up!
On top of your regular meals, make sure you are drinking at least 3L of water a day to help satisfy your food cravings. Dehydration can often be confused with hunger as your brain is receiving mixed signals from your body.
Next time you open the fridge or kitchen cupboard, make sure it’s ‘mechanical hunger!’