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Types of Hunger Guide

Hunger is not always as straightforward as feeling an empty stomach and craving food. In fact, there are several types of hunger, each with its own triggers and nuances. First, let’s explore why people may not feel hunger. Why Might Some People Not Feel Different Types of Hunger? Interoception issues can make it difficult for […]
Types of Hunger Guide

Types of Hunger Guide

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Hunger is not always as straightforward as feeling an empty stomach and craving food. In fact, there are several types of hunger, each with its own triggers and nuances. First, let’s explore why people may not feel hunger.

Why Might Some People Not Feel Different Types of Hunger?

Interoception issues can make it difficult for people to sense hunger cues in their stomach. Interoception is the ability to perceive internal sensations such as hunger, thirst, heart beating slow or fast, excitement and nerves. Interoception allows us to answer the question ‘How do I feel?’ at any given moment. When this sense is impaired, people may not feel hunger even when their body needs nourishment. This can lead to irregular eating patterns and difficulties in meeting their nutritional needs. People with Autism Spectrum Condition often have issues with interception and feeling hunger.

Factors such as stress, medications, medical conditions, or past experiences with dieting and restriction can also affect hunger signals. For example, chronic stress can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite, leading to decreased hunger or changes in eating patterns. Similarly, certain medications or medical conditions can suppress appetite, making it challenging for individuals to recognise when they need to eat. 

If you are not feeling hunger, or are finding it difficult to eat, please speak to your GP.

What Are The Different Types of Hunger?

Eye Hunger

Have you ever seen a delicious-looking meal and suddenly felt the urge to eat? This is eye hunger at play. Our eyes can be powerful stimulants for our appetite, often leading us to crave food simply because it looks appealing.

Nose Hunger

The aroma of food can be irresistible. Nose hunger occurs when the smell of food triggers a desire to eat, even if you weren’t hungry before. The scent of freshly baked bread or a sizzling barbecue can activate our appetite in an instant.

Ear Hunger

The sound of food being prepared or eaten can also stimulate hunger. Ear hunger kicks in when we hear the sizzle of bacon on the stove or the crunch of chips, making us crave those foods ourselves.

Mouth Hunger

Ever taken a bite of something delicious and immediately wanted more? That’s mouth hunger for you. It occurs when the taste of food triggers a desire to keep eating, even if your stomach isn’t necessarily empty.

Stomach Hunger

Perhaps the most familiar type of hunger, stomach hunger is characterised by physical sensations in the stomach, such as growling or feeling empty. It’s a signal that your body needs nourishment and energy.

Mind Hunger

Mind hunger can be influenced by external factors such as time of day or societal norms. It’s when you feel the urge to eat because you think you ‘should’ or because it’s a designated mealtime.

Emotional Hunger

Emotional hunger is tied to our feelings rather than physical needs. It occurs when we eat in response to emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or anxiety, seeking comfort or distraction from our feelings through food.

Understanding these different types of hunger is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship with food. It’s important to add that all of these types of hunger are considered ‘normal’ and none of them are ‘good’ or ‘bad’! However, being able to recognise different types of hunger will support you to eat when you need nourishment. You could try using our Hunger Chart to support intuitive eating.

Physical Hunger vs. Psychological/Emotional Hunger

Physical hunger builds gradually over time, and any food will satisfy it. It is a deliberate choice to eat in response to a definite need, and distractions do not decrease the craving. After eating, there is a sense of satisfaction.

Psychological or emotional hunger, on the other hand, appears suddenly and is often a craving for a specific type of food. It is driven by feelings rather than physical needs and is usually accompanied by impulsive food choices. Distractions tend to decrease the craving, but the person may still feel unsatisfied after eating.

Deprivation Hunger

Deprivation hunger happens when a person has restricted access to desired foods, often as a result of dieting or labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Often, this happens when people are trying to gain some structure when life feels unstructured.  However, deprivation hunger leads to feeling out of control and binge-eating. To learn how to beat diet culture, read our resource.

In conclusion, recognising and understanding the different types of hunger is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with food. By being mindful of our hunger cues and addressing our needs appropriately, we can nourish our bodies both physically and emotionally, leading to overall well-being and satisfaction.

For more support with diet, check out our module on Body Image & Healthy Eating.

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