What kind of hungry are you?

Cat looking at food on counter top - Fotolia # 95105372
The next time you are about to put a food or beverage in your mouth, simply stop, take a deep breath and ask ‘what kind of hunger am I?’ Developing this curiosity is a valuable part of caring for yourself.

Have you ever walked down the street and smelled the delight of fresh bread dancing through the air? Then, instantly thought ‘I am so hungry’? Or perhaps you have sat down an hour after supper with a bowl of popcorn to entertain you while you watch the latest episode of your favourite show.

Were you actually in need of food during these occasions? Chances are that you were not responding to a physical cue, but rather an emotional or habitual trigger.

We often classify hunger in three ways: stomach hunger, heart hunger or mouth hunger. Stomach hunger is a traditional mix of a growling and empty stomach, feeling a little weak and having a reasonable 3 to 4 hours between meals. Heart hunger starts a food craving based on desires (like our delicious bread) or memories (like how we must have that special stuffing with our turkey). Heart hunger may be triggered by emotions or stress, which causes us to desire comfort in some way. Mouth hunger relates to the habits we have around food (like snacking during movies or grazing while we are making supper). Mouth hunger can be seen as mindless eating.

Learning the difference between stomach, heart and mouth hunger can help us understand our appetite. This can help us understand how to approach managing our weight. It can also help us foster a healthy relationship with food.

The next time you are about to put a food or beverage in your mouth, simply stop, take a deep breath and ask ‘what kind of hunger am I?’ Developing this curiosity is a valuable part of caring for yourself.