How to Tell the Difference Between Emotional Hunger & Physical Hunger

By on Oct 21, 2016 in Uncategorized |

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Have you ever had some bad news and had a huge cry, but then following that cry you need comfort so off you went to the fridge or takeaway menu? Have you ever worked so hard you’ve forgotten to eat and you feel that raw emptiness way down deep in your lower tummy where if you don’t eat RIGHT NOW there would be a big deal? Right there you can see the differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger.

Emotional hunger comes about when we try to feed our feelings and not our stomachs. We all do it. Anyone who says they’ve never done it is a liar pure and simple but the good news is there are ways to immediately differentiate your feelings so that you can act fast and not fall into the trap of feeding the sadness! We all know that emotional hunger cannot be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment you do it, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. The problems you may be having or the stresses that lay heavily on your shoulders are still are large factor of your life that cream cakes and takeaways cannot cure. Temporarily, they create a feeling of safety and euphoria but learning the differences between eating your emotions and eating because your body requires fuel is key to moving forward healthily in your life. In this article we are exploring the differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger and websites such as can help us to learn how to sharply detox away from the food we so often lean on in a crisis.


Emotional hunger can be very powerful and as a result it is easily mistaken for physical hunger. There are however, clues you can look for that can help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you like lightening, in an instant and feels overwhelming like a craving: it’s urgent. Physical hunger on the other hand, comes on gradually, like when you’re slaving away at work and suddenly you notice how empty you feel, echoed by an almighty growl in your lower stomach! The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction, unless you haven’t eaten in a while of course.

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort food. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything from carrot sticks and dips to a clotted cream scone sounds good. But emotional hunger craves fatty or sugary snacks to provide an instant rush. You feel like you need that whole cheesecake right now, and nothing else will do. Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten an entire bag of Doritos or a full tub of Ben and Jerry’s and you’ve not even paid any attention to it, or mostly, enjoyed it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you are doing. Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied when you are physically full. You will keep wanting more and more often eating until you are uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger doesn’t need to be stuffed, you feel satisfied once your stomach is full.

Emotional hunger is not located in the stomach. It’s in the mind. You believe it’s a craving you need right now and it’s because you’ve been conditioned over time to believe that food will make things better. Emotional hunger often leads to regret and shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger you are far less likely to feel guilty, after all you are only fulfilling a basic human need. If you feel guilty after you eat it’s likely because you know you are not eating for nutritional reasons.

Companies like help others to rid themselves of emotional eating and learn their own triggers for hunger.