Craving or Hunger?

By Katherine Hood on May 12, 2024

Eating for craving or hunger has become a common dilemma in today's society.

We often find ourselves reaching for food not because we are truly hungry, but rather because we are seeking comfort or trying to satisfy an emotional need. This disconnect from our natural hunger cues can have detrimental effects on our overall health and well-being.

Society plays a significant role in conditioning us to eat in response to emotions. Whether it's stress, sadness, boredom, or even happiness, we have been taught that food is the answer to our emotional struggles. However, this unhealthy relationship with food can lead to weight gain and the development of unhealthy eating patterns.

In order to break free from this habit, it is crucial to reconnect with our natural hunger cues. Listening to our bodies and understanding when we are truly hungry versus when we are simply craving something can make a world of difference.

Understanding the difference between when you are craving something to eat and feeling hungry and needing to eat is a game changer. 

In the past, my eating habits revolved around satisfying my immediate cravings (my relationship to food was unhealthy). Every day, I would ask myself, "What am I craving today?" This question dictated my food choices, whether it was ordering takeout, cooking a meal, or shopping for groceries. However, this approach to eating was not sustainable and ultimately hindered my understanding of what food truly represents. It was an invisible barrier that prevented me from appreciating the nourishment and enjoyment that food can provide. By reflecting on this mindset, I have realized the importance of making mindful and intentional choices when it comes to nourishing my body and soul.

Giving into your cravings only fuels their power over you, making it even more difficult to resist them.

Cravings can be for food or other external things.

By understanding your brain, you will hold the key to conquering these overwhelming emotions and regaining control over your actions.

Feeling hungry and craving food are different. Hunger tells your body it needs food to work well. It happens when your body lacks nutrients, and you might feel your stomach growling or feel weak and dizzy. This is a simple, watered-down logical breakdown. However, we are all unique and different, so it would take understanding your unique lifestyle, cues, environment, and running through some examples one-on-one to sort through the differences for you.

Craving food is often more of a psychological desire for a specific type of food, often triggered by external cues such as advertisements, social situations, mood or emotional stress. Cravings are not necessarily related to the body's need for nutrients but rather to the brain's reward system and its association with certain foods.

Understanding the difference between craving food and hunger is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with food. The relationship to anything simply means how you think about it. What's running through your mind on a conscious and nonconscious level about food, throughout the day and week?

It is essential to listen to your body's signals of hunger and provide it with the nourishment it needs, rather than giving in to cravings that may lead to overeating or unhealthy food choices. By being mindful of these distinctions, you can make more informed decisions about your food choices and develop a balanced approach to eating.

Cravings can be incredibly powerful and seemingly irresistible, but they don't have to dictate your actions. By being armed with the difference between craving and hunger, you can empower yourself to make healthier choices and overcome the urge to give in to unhealthy temptations. Understanding the root of your cravings, whether they stem from emotional triggers, habit, or nutrient deficiencies, can help you address them more effectively.

It's important to remember that cravings are not unstoppable forces; they are simply messages from your brain. By understanding the underlying reasons behind these cravings unique to you, you can address the root causes once and for all. When we understand this, and drop any negative thoughts it lessens the pressure and we no longer sink to believing there’s something wrong with us. When we drift into doom thinking this is when we quickly slide back to the old relationship to food, that it’s there to sooth us. 

Conquering cravings is a process, a journey, it will take being persistent, a daily practice, lots of patience and being really kind to yourself, meaning when you fall for a craving being able to let yourself off the hook, reflect on it and learn from it. With perseverance, self-awareness, and a commitment to your well-being, you can regain control over your actions and break free from a simple habit of food being our main source of comfort. 

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