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Can't Stop Emotional Eating? Learn to differentiate Between Physical and Emotional Hunger

Contrary to today’s diet culture, it’s OK to feel hungry!

It doesn’t mean that you don’t have the willpower to stay away from food. It’s just the body’s natural signal that it needs food for energy and fuel. It’s also typically accompanied by feelings of emptiness in your stomach, rumbling sensations and growling noises.


Or is that really the whole hunger story?

There's also "emotional hunger", which is not caused by an actual need for food to survive.






Episode Summary

In this episode, we cover how to recognize emotional eating and how to differentiate between physical and emotional hunger.

Emotional hunger is often driven out of habit, because you’re feeling certain negative emotions and because you know that certain foods taste good and will make you feel better.

Let’s face it - we all want to be happy! So, when you’re “emotionally hungry”, what you’re actually craving is a hefty dopamine release.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s triggered when you receive some kind of reward - and it’s a chemical reaction that your body repeatedly craves. No wonder it’s also called the “happy hormone”!


However, emotional eating is not necessarily simply a matter of a person lacking self-discipline or needing to eat less.



Here are some telltale signs that this might be emotional hunger, rather than true physical hunger:

Physical Hunger

Emotional Hunger

  • ​physical hunger comes on more gradually

  • the hunger comes on suddenly and feels urgent

  • open to different food options

  • ​specific cravings (e.g. fatty and/or salty foods, crunchy or creamy textures, sweets)

  • ​When you’re satisfying physical hungry, you get the feeling of being full, and tend to listen to your body’s signals to stop eating

  • ​Eat more than you normally would. Often feel uncomfortably full and you may not feel satisfied after eating

  • negative feelings do not usually follow

  • ​Feel guilty and ashamed afterwards


Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you know if you are truly physically hungry, or if it's emotional hunger:

  • When and how much did you last eat?

  • Are you thirsty? In previous episodes, we've already talked about how many people confuse hunger and thirst.

  • Are you getting signs of "physical hunger"? e.g. feelings of emptiness in your stomach, rumbling sensations and growling noises.

  • How are you feeling psychologically? Are you anxious, depressed, or generally going through a particularly stressful time?

  • Did anything happen over the last couple of hours that might be stirring up some emotions?


In the beginning, you may not be able to identify the differences or recognize that you're eating for emotional hunger until after you feel the guilt or other associated emotions. However, by tuning in more often for your body, you'll get better at this and prevent emotional eating from happening even before it happens.



If you want to fast-track your progress and stop spinning the wheels now, check out the Stop Binge Eating Program. We place a lot of emphasis on helping you deal with emotions, cravings, and break the emotional eating and yo-yo dieting cycle. In the program, you learn how to identify and cope with these feelings effectively, specific to your situation and implement strategies and apply techniques that help you respond to your body's cues more effectively.

If you're ready to say goodbye to yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, constant snacking, and binge eating and finally lose weight for good, make sure you check out the Stop Binge Eating Program, which gives you a proven, step-by-step roadmap to help you lose weight for good without feeling deprived!




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1.Free Nutrition Resources

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2. If you're ready to fast-track your progress and say goodbye to yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, constant snacking, and binge eating and finally lose weight for good, make sure you check out the Stop Binge Eating Program, which gives you a proven, step-by-step roadmap to help you lose weight for good without feeling deprived!


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