How to recognize and fight nervous hunger?

Today we shall talk about nervous hunger, specifically let’s see how to recognize and fight nervous hunger.

Experts explain that: “We can talk about emotional or nervous hunger when the feeling of appetite is triggered by an emotional state such as:

  • anger
  • boredom
  • stress
  • loneliness
  • voltage
  • fatigue
  • anxiety or depression.

In fact, it does not depend on the physiological desire to eat, as is the case with bodily or physical hunger. Food has an essential biological function for the body, given that from food we get everything we need to keep us alive: sugars, protein, fats.

However, when we use food as a remedy to calm or appease our emotions, or fill a void, then we are faced with the so-called nervous hunger

How do we distinguish nervous hunger from physiological hunger?

Features of physical hunger

We can recognize physical hunger by these characteristics:

  • comes gradually and can be delayed;
  • can be satisfied through food;
  • does not cause a sense of guilt;
  • once the hunger has been satisfied, it stops;
  • it is based on eating as a necessity.

Characteristics of nervous hunger

These are instead the distinctive elements of nervous hunger:

  • it is sudden and urgent;
  • insistent;
  • it is very specific (e.g. pizza, ice cream, etc.);
  • leads to feeling guilty;
  • it does not cease even if the body is full and it does not end after we eat;
  • it is not fully aware.

How to fight nervous hunger

You can reduce this feeling and this modality by following some practical advice:

  1. Eat healthy and mindfully:
  • sit down at the table with an appetite, but not hungry; have 5 meals a day, start with a small portion, use smaller and not excessively large dishes;.
  • use all the senses. It’s good to focus on the taste, smell and colours of what we’re eating. As you chew, try to identify all the ingredients;
  • take small bites;
  • put away the cell phone and turn off the TV;
  • chew well and slowly. You should chew each mouthful about 20-40 times, depending on the type of food.
  1. Try keeping a food diary, in which you indicate what you ate, at what time and in what quantities, especially specifying how you felt after you finished. If you find yourself eating when you’re stressed, sad, or bored, it could be emotional hunger.
  2. Try listening to your stomach and, comparing it to an inflatable balloon, pay attention to how it feels, whether full, half full or empty and the sensations you are experiencing when that desire to fill it assails us.
  3. Ask for help from relatives, friends, listening groups but above all to a specialist, because it is easier to give in to emotional hunger if there is not a good support network.
  4. Fight boredom, avoiding snacking even when you are not hungry but implementing healthy or rewarding behaviours, such as taking a walk, watching a movie, playing with your pet, listening to music, reading or calling a friend, practicing yoga and meditation .
  5. Eliminate temptations, such as: do not store unhealthy food at home, going shopping when you are hungry or angry or stressed.
  6. Focus on positive changes deriving from having introduced healthier eating habits and having learned to recognize the sense of satiety. This can help boost self-esteem and better accept your body.

Do you want to understand something more about healthy eating?