Hunger and Cravings

What is the difference between hunger and cravings?  Why do we eat more at times in between or after meals? Is it because we are still hungry?  Or, not satisfied?

Hunger happens when your body needs fuel or nutrition for energy.  Hunger pangs, a growling stomach, and low energy are some of the signs the body needs nutrition.  It usually occurs when you haven’t eaten for a few hours and can be satisfied by a healthy snack or meal. 

Cravings can occur when you are wanting something in particular such as a specific food, taste or texture.  It is a stronger sensation that can want something salty, savory, sugary, etc.  Cravings can appear because of a certain mood you are feeling, or to relive stress or boredom.  Some people have cravings when they want to relax.  Cravings can be intense and urgent.  

It is important to identify when you are truly hungry or having a specific food craving.  If not identified, cravings could lead to excessive or mindless eating of unhealthy or unwanted foods.  When you have cravings, stopping to think before acting can help.

Here are some ideas to deal with cravings

  • Drink more water-it fills your stomach and sometimes thirst is confused with hunger or food cravings
  • Eat more protein-protein can help you feel fuller
  • Distract yourself- get involve in an activity; call a friend, read a book, take a walk
  • Plan your meals-have healthy food available, even when you need a snack
  • Avoid getting extremely hungry-eat at regular intervals
  • Reflect on your mood- address your feelings and think about what you really need other than food

Be mindful about eating.   Pay attention to the difference between hunger and cravings. Be intentional about the quantity and quality of foods eaten. The brain plays a major role in deciding when and what a person eats.

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