Are you really hungry? Why distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger might be your best weight loss tool.



I have been really busy this month, and most clients have come to see me to lose weight.  There are many reasons why people might be struggling to maintain an ideal weight, and unfortunately it is rarely just a question of ‘calories in versus calories out’. If you are eating reasonably well and exercising too, but you still struggle with your weight, you might benefit from further investigations. Various imbalances in the body can make weight loss hard and need to be addressed. These include food intolerances, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, poor digestion as well as nutrients deficiencies.

However, I would like to address another issue here. One thing that most of my weight-loss clients have in common is that, according to them, they have a ‘difficult relationship’ with food. They tell me that this relationship is hard to explain; they call it ‘weird’, ‘shameful’ or simply ‘embarrassing’.  They say that sometimes they eat out of habit, or because they are bored, lonely, tired or stressed. Well, who has not done that, at least once? I can tell you that I have been there, and you?

This is emotional hunger which has nothing to do with physical hunger but still needs to be addressed if you want to lose weight.

Here are some clues to help you identify which hunger you might be experiencing:




·         Stomach is growling


·         Builds gradually


·         Can wait


·         Can be satisfied with a variety of foods


·         Stops when you are full


·         Occurs 3+ hours after a meal


·         Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself and leads to satisfaction





·         No physical clues


·         Develops suddenly


·         Needs to be satisfied immediately


·         Craves specific comfort foods


·         Persists even when you are full


·         Occurs at random times


·         Leads to feeling of guilt, powerlessness and shame

Next time you feel like eating something, ask yourself if you are really, truly hungry.

Is your stomach growling? When was the last time you ate something? Could you be thirsty instead? Drink a glass of water, wait for about 20 minutes and if you are still feeling hungry, then go ahead and have something to eat. Start to listen to your body, tune in and learn to recognise the physical signs of true hunger. Do not reach for food just because the clock says it is time to eat! On the other hand, if you are experiencing emotional eating you need to find satisfaction in something other than eating. You need to take a step back, take a deep breath, dig deeper and ask yourself what kind of void you are trying to fill.

So, next time you are reaching for the biscuits, ask yourself:

Am I bored? Change what you are doing. Go for a walk, exercise, give yourself a manicure/pedicure or read a book.

Am I lonely? Call a friend. Make a plan to meet up with someone you have not seen for a while, have something to look forward to.

Am I upset? Take a deep breath and let it go. If you truly have no control over the situation there is no point in getting stressed about it.

Am I tired? Take a break if you can. Have a hot bath, a massage or take a short nap.

Remember, no amount of food will ever satisfy emotional hunger.  Yes, not even a whole jar of Nutella is going to do the trick!


If you would like to discuss any of these topics, get in touch. Alongside Nutritional therapy, I regularly use NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) coaching techniques to help people make positive changes and achieve their goals.