Hunger is a very interesting phenomenon. It is not only a physical need, but an emotional one as well. At times you feel like just eating anything, like you are desperately hungry. Surprisingly, you often end up eating just a few bites. But there are other times when your sugar level is getting low, you feel dizzy, you are told to eat, and you don’t feel like eating. What actually triggers hunger? Is it the nutritional requirement of the body or there is more to it than just that?
At FoxSumo we were intrigued by the various forms of hunger and decided to let the world know about it.
01. Eye hunger
Popular chefs serve beautiful looking plates on their tables. So much so, that the face value of the dish holds an equal importance these days. A mason jar filled with a chocolate shake, drizzled with Nutella, ice cream, waffles, chocolate chips, and generous amount of Hershey’s syrup dripping down the sides, at first glance you will want to have it all. This is called ’eye hunger,’ when you can’t resist food after just looking at it.
You see food at your neighbor’s table at a restaurant, in a newspaper advertisement, on TV, and you immediately want to try it. It’s like your eyes see a dish and want to have it right away! It is your eyes that eat first.
How to control it: Divert your attention to other beautiful things whenever you see a delectable dish in front of you. For instance, when at a restaurant, look at the man or woman sitting at the head of the table, or look at the beautiful painting, or even the beautiful fresh flowers. You will be surprised that you will stop thinking about the dish.
02. Mind hunger
At one moment, your mind tells you sugar is bad, don’t eat. And the very next moment, your mind asks you to dig in, you deserve a treat! Mind hunger is the most difficult to deal with because our mind and mood keep changing. It is our mind that tells us at the sight of food whether to eat it or not. At times, our mind tells us not to eat much because that can lead to weight gain, and sometimes it may ask you not to worry about weight loss at all and just eat.
Not only do we need to pay attention to the yes’s and the no’s from the mind regarding food, but we should also know how to avoid listening to it.
How to control it: Our mind generally makes decisions based on the information it receives. So it is important for us to keep reminding ourselves about true hunger and mind hunger. As a simple test, whenever you think you are hungry and want to eat the cake in front of you, replace it with something you dislike for a moment, like cabbage. If you are truly hungry, you would even eat that. And if you aren’t, that was mind hunger and not a real hunger.
03. Ear hunger
Have you ever heard sounds of packages opening while on public transport or in an office? Or maybe you heard a delivery boy announce his arrival with food in hand? You suddenly feel like getting or ordering something for yourself too. So, simply hearing about food is making you hungry, right? When the topic of discussion suddenly shifts to food, you start to feel hungry. This is called ear hunger.
How to control it: You can’t stop the noise of course, but you can definitely stop the voices telling you to fall into the trap of eating. Just divert your attention to something else when you hear food noises.
04. Nose hunger
Ah! The smell of good food can make anyone go crazy, or should we say, hungry. The smell of baking bread, brewing coffee, or melting cheese, they simply smell like they’re inviting you to come eat them. A person who is fond of food will always be smelling and searching for food. In fact, even our ancestors ensured the freshness and purity of food by smelling it.
How to control it: Whenever you are served your plate, patiently smell each ingredient/serving separately. When you start eating, swallow each piece separately while smelling it. You will notice that you will eat less compared to before.
05. Stomach hunger
If you think the words stomach hunger indicate a legit category of hunger, you might be wrong? It’s actually not the stomach that tells us we are hungry, but we tell the stomach. We generally eat more because of a set meal schedule and not because we are actually hungry.
For instance, you might not be hungry in the afternoon, but as the clock ticks away toward the evening, you feel like taking your dinner break early. In short, a lot of times we eat just because it is time to eat and not necessarily because we are hungry.
How to control it: Assess your hunger carefully and notice if your stomach is really empty or are you just eating out of boredom or stress. Also, eat slowly and stop eating once you are a little more than half full.
06. Mouth hunger
Some dishes are just drool worthy. So much so, that you end up eating them just to satisfy your taste buds. Desires of the mouth keep changing. Sometimes it craves spicy food, sometimes dessert. At times, it craves crunchy food, and other times it wants something cheesy. This is not real hunger. Mouth hunger is only linked with cravings. Food is like entertainment for the mouth.
How to control it: It is not harmful to listen to your tongue’s demands. But, it is always in your hands to stop eating as soon as the craving is gone. Eating a plateful just to satisfy your taste buds is not wise. 2 or 3 bites can also do the same job. Don’t let the excitement overpower your tongue.
07. Heart hunger
Apple pie cooked by mom, that famous coffee shop’s latte, or an iced lemonade on a hot day? There are few things that you just feel like eating, and not because you are hungry. Heart hunger can also be termed as emotional hunger, that we try to fulfill to soothe not only our stomach, but our soul as well.
How to control it: You can’t ignore heart hunger, but you can surely control it. Watch your portion size. Don’t force yourself to finish it and take breaks in between to assess if you are feeling hungry anymore.
08. Cellular hunger
Ever wondered why small kids refuse to eat certain foods? It’s not the taste that leads them to do it, but their conscience tells them what to eat and what is not required for the body. However, as we grow up, we tend to ignore these voices from within, and do what our mind, our peers, and our books say. Don’t eat more sugar, eat less salt, etc.
What we need to do is distinguish between what our body needs and what our mind demands. If we are thirsty, we must look for water and not start eating. If we try explaining it scientifically, there are a few hormones that affect our appetite too. There are 2 chief hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Between these, leptin is the appetite suppressor, but unfortunately, it is higher in lean people and lower in fat ones.
How to control it: Our body needs to get a daily supply of vitamins, minerals, salts, fats, carbohydrates, etc. We must listen to our body’s requirements at various stages. It is better for us to drink a glass of water before choosing to snack. You might end up realizing that you were simply thirsty and didn’t really want to snack.
09. Hunger from stress
We have all heard this many times, that when you’re stressed you either starve or overeat. Well, you’re definitely going to regret the latter in the end. When stressed, we generally don’t pay much attention to what we are eating. You might not think about picking a cup of yogurt instead of a bag of chips. It won’t click to you at the time when all you are thinking about is your stress.
How to control it: It is not easy, but also not impossible. You need to be practical and think about the future consequences of eating without thinking. Pause for a while and look in the mirror. You will instantly realize that you will cause yourself more stress by eating in a mindless manner.
10. Hunger while working or watching TV
Do you also sit in front of the television set with a bowl of popcorn or a bag of chips? Many face this problem and we call it hunger while watching TV. Some people also eat while working for long hours at their desk. As per a 2013 review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating when distracted leads to more consumption of calories than eating otherwise.
How to control it: Before switching on the television, analyze first how hungry you are and get yourself something beforehand. Also, keep your hands busy while watching TV with things like knitting, sewing, or something similar. This is to make sure that you are not eating because you are idle.
11. Hunger when you are getting bored
According to Albers, “One thing we have to work on is being able to better tolerate boredom instead of a knee-jerk reaction to try to fill our time with something.” When you have nothing to do, you simply feel like checking the fridge or kitchen cabinets. And that’s how you are lured toward eating.
How to control it: Getting bored doesn’t mean you have to eat. Pick up a book, pet your dog, or even better, switch on the music and start dancing. Consider this spare time as your relaxation time and utilize it well.
12. And, the very common — midnight hunger
These days, our eating habits are somewhat faulty. There is no fixed time for each meal which is why we sometimes don’t feel full or satisfied and wake up from sleep just to eat. For some, night eating is a result of stress, and for others, it is an imbalance of hormones that regulate appetite.
How to control it: Tell yourself that you need to give priority to your sleep. Secondly, keep a healthy snack at your bedside like fruit or a few almonds, so that even if you wake up to eat, you are not eating unhealthy. Walking to the fridge can give you way more unhealthy options, so it is better to have something ready to avoid getting out of bed.
Food is a basic necessity of the human body. Also, our hunger is never restricted to its literal meaning. Know of more reasons responsible for your hunger? Let us know in the comments below.