When you eat in response to your feelings, not hunger, you are emotional eating.  Usually, emotional eating involves eating comfort or junk foods in large amounts in an attempt to avoid your feelings.  These feelings may be of depression, boredom, loneliness, stress, or anxiety to name a few.  Or they might be as a result of relationship problems, or due to poor self-esteem.  Regardless of the feeling involved emotional eating is a common problem for both men and women.  Unfortunately, it can sabotage your weight loss efforts.  So how can you tell if you are emotional eating or hungry?

Nyc-diet-planThere is a distinct difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.  However, many people don’t recognize this difference.  Often times the lack of recognition comes from being distracted.  If you are busy watching television or working on your lap top you might not recognize why you are hungry.  When you do feel hungry take a minute to stop and think about your hunger.  What is triggering this feeling?

True physical hunger is the feeling you experience in your stomach.  You may have hunger pains or your stomach may be growling.  These feelings tend to grow as more time passes.  You may also begin to feel tired, moody, light-headed, or even find it difficult to focus on other tasks.  These are all signs of a true physical hunger.

Emotional hunger stems from the emotions you are feeling and can be triggered by stress, sadness, loneliness, boredom, and even happiness.  In these cases you aren’t physically hungry but the mind has convinced you that you are hungry.  Often emotional hunger leads to overeating because you have no indication of being full.

The key is to recognize the type of hunger you are feeling.  Once you know if you are truly hungry or just emotionally hungry you will be better equipped to deal with the hunger.  One way to help recognize the difference is to drink a glass of water before you eat.  Water can help the cravings to subside if the body isn’t truly hungry.  Also, try snacking on pretzels, baked chips, carrot sticks, or crunchy fruits like apples.  These will help to satisfy any cravings you have without blowing your calorie intake out of proportion or adding to much guilt.  Some other great snacks are low-fat cheese, yogurt, or peanut butter.

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