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Emotional vs. Physical Hunger: What’s the Difference?

Struggling with emotional eating?

Most of the time when people overeat, it’s for emotional reasons that have nothing to do with physical hunger: Boredom. Stress. Social pressure. Pleasure.

One of the key skills to lose weight and keep it off is to be able to tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger cues in your body and take care of your emotions separately.

Here’s a visual “cheat sheet” that can help you understand what the difference feels like in your body:


Emotional hunger is sudden, feels urgent, craves specific foods. Even after eating, you’re not full and keep wanting more.

Physical hunger is felt in your stomach, comes on gradually, and craves nourishing foods. You feel full and satiated after eating.

When you feel a craving coming on, PAUSE and ask yourself:

What kind of hunger is this? What do I really need right now?

Emotional hunger can be caused by stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness…

Which food won’t resolve.

If you’re eating for emotional reasons instead of hunger, take a pause and address the emotions separately.

What does the difference feel like to you? Comment below and let us know below!

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