When you are eating food incessantly, are you hungry, or is it a craving? People are mostly confused between the two, misplacing one another; both have almost the same effects on the body. The difference between hunger and craving is similar but is not entirely the same. Therefore, we need to understand the difference between hunger and craving to avoid compulsive eating now and then.
The Difference Between Hunger And Craving
Understanding the difference between hunger and craving is imperative as its better understanding keeps your body in a health check. Our body gives certain signals that can be used to identify whether you are hungry or you crave a certain food. Therefore, let’s learn the difference. The key is trusting yourself to understand whether it’s craving or your body is truly hungry.
What Is Hunger?
Hunger is an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by the want of food or by insufficient consumption of dietary energy. Hunger is a biological response of the body’s need for food. Hunger does not pass with time, and your body remains in pain unless it gets food. Your body isn’t hungry for any specific food, and it can be satisfied by eating any healthy snacks.
To overcome this one, first, you need to understand hunger signals. These signals will help you to understand whether you are truly hungry or not.
Hunger Signals From Your Stomach
- You will feel empty
- Hunger pangs
- Hollow feeling
Hunger Signals From Brain
- lack of concentration
Once you analyze these signals, if you are hungry, it is time to eat. Consider the intensity of hunger and decide on the healthy food you can choose to munch on. For a small hunger pang, you can eat healthy snacks like popcorns, nuts, fruits, etc. Otherwise, you will need to have a meal to satisfy it.
What Is Craving?
Emotional or psychological needs can cause craving. Craving is the emotional state of one’s physiology. It is food-specific and cannot be satisfied by any different food. Unlike hunger, cravings can pass with time. Cravings are felt mostly during pregnancy and the menstrual cycle. Emotions, hormones, memories, etc., can bring a craving. A negative mood is also responsible for craving; therefore, consider positive thoughts to avoid overeating eating due to a craving.
Craving sweets post-meal is a natural phenomenon. Sugar craving could be a result of increased serotonin. High-carbohydrate food meals can also trigger sugar cravings. Still, too many post-meal cravings ultimately end up with overeating, unhealthy eating, which in turn gives rise to excess weight gain, diabetes, PCOS, insulin resistance, etc.
Cravings can also happen if your body is deficient in certain nutrients. For example, when your body is sodium-deficient, it will crave salty foods. Therefore, understand your body’s needs and consider its response and act accordingly.
Physical Signals For Craving
- Intensifies with time
- Physiologically hungry
- Demands only the craved food
Emotional Signals For Craving
- Craving does not intensify with time
- Not hungry physiologically
- It disappears if you are distracted
How To Curb Your Cravings?
1. Eat Your Meals Without Distractions
We are surrounded by gadgets and social media. Distraction during meals ends up in less mindful eating. We eat bite by bite, and before we know it, our plate is empty because our brain wasn’t focusing on eating. It’s almost like we didn’t eat at all. And we immediately start craving for post-dinner treats. So, eating mindfully and calmly helps to overcome post-meal cravings.
2. Have A Protein-rich Meal
Meals high in protein give you a feeling of fullness and help you reduce post-meal cravings. Protein is also a healthy and essential nutrient for the body. It provides energy and boosts the body’s mechanism.
3. Eat Enough Veggies/Salads During Meals
Eating a salad or veggies is always considered a healthy option for the body. Therefore, start adding them to your diet. A hefty serving of veggies and salads will fulfill your satiety levels and reduce post-meal cravings.
4. Enjoy Sweet Treats Slowly
Enjoy your sweet treats slowly indulge yourself at that moment and enjoy every bite. It might sound silly, but this will give your brain satisfaction, and you will end up with less eating.
5. Maintain Meal Timing
Eating your meals at regularly spaced out intervals is the best way to keep yourself satiated. It prevents unnecessary consumption of food after lunch/dinner, preventing weight gain.
6. Combine Sugary Treats With Non-sugary Foods
A combination of sugary food with proteins or other starchy food will help you give satiety, reducing post-meal cravings. Nourish your body with healthy and mindful eating.
Why Is Mindful Eating So Paramount?
MINDFULNESS is the art of learning how to assess HUNGER and FULLNESS. Paying attention to food non-judgmentally will prove beneficial in understanding the difference between hunger and craving. Mindful eating help you concentrate on the food you are eating. Practice mindful eating to have a healthy lifestyle.
Read Also: 7 Healthy Foods To Satisfy Midnight Hunger