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Emotional Eating: Physical vs. Emotional Hunger

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How do you tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger?

If you have ever struggled with emotional or binge eating, you may be confused as to how to tell the difference in physical hunger vs. emotional hunger. Eating can be physical, emotional or both. Yes, both. Let me explain.

Physical- You just worked out, and you are craving a banana. Your body wants the potassium to help with the muscle cramps.

Emotional- You just had a healthy, nutritious meal and aren’t physically hungry but you find yourself in the fridge. Then, you realize you are trying to distract yourself from the stressful day you have had.

Both- You find yourself craving your grandma’s cookies at night when you are lonely and missing home. At the same time, you realize you didn’t eat dinner, and your body needs calories.

If you know how to listen, your body will tell you all you need to know. When you are physically hungry and even when you are full. While it can be hard to tell the difference between the two you can overcome emotional eating by trusting your body to tell you what it needs.

What does hunger feel like?

I’m sure hunger feels different for everyone. Maybe over the next few days let yourself get hungry and make a note of the signs your body gives you. I’m not saying to starve yourself until you have extreme hunger cramps, but hold off a little bit. If you have a pretty set schedule and eat around the same time, maybe push it back 20-30 minutes.

Physical Hunger:

-comes on gradually and can be postponed

-in the stomach, feel growling

-can be satisfied with any type of food

-once full you can stop eating

-causes satisfaction, not feelings of guilt

Emotional Hunger:

-comes on suddenly and feels urgent

-thoughts you can’t get out of your head

-eat more than you normally would, feel uncomfortably full

-craves specific foods (pizza, cookies, ice cream)

-leaves you feeling guilty

Here are some questions to ask yourself before eating.


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Hi! I'm Monica, the face behind Munchkins and Coffee.  Like most, I enjoy long walks on the beach and quiet dinners with the Mister. But let's be real, I'm a mom to 2 munchkins and to 2 4-legged kids so those things are few and far between.  I dabble in a variety of DIY projects and crafts and sell SVGs for the Cricut/Silhouette. I love to cook and bake and I'm a type 1 diabetic. Target and H-E-B are my happy places. I love to read but don't do it as much as I'd like and I'm totally guilty of binge-watching shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. Coffee gets me through the day and is my "drug" of choice. 🙂 That's where the name comes in. Kids, life and all the beautiful chaos in between. So, check out my Etsy shop for SVG/cutting files for your Cricut/Silhouette and keep an eye out on here and my Facebook for my free cut files.

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