Are You Overeating? 8 Types of Hunger

By Joanna 05/07/2021 In
Nutritional Tips

Nowadays, we spend most of our time at home - working, studying, communicating, basically doing everything from home. That means, we have been also stocking up on lots of food. Some of you have messaged me telling me how much weight you’ve gain during the lockdown. Hands up if you have been overeating just by spending more time at home. Let me know in the comments below. I mean what do you 24/7 at home? Plus the food cupboard is literally right behind you, of course you’re going to reach and start snacking away.

So let’s talk about how you can STOP overeating and the cause of it. When we think about why we eat, we often think that it’s because we’re “hungry”. But is that really the case? Just take the time to think back:

  • When was the last time you ate because you were truly hungry?
  • When was the last time you ate so much you felt absolutely stuffed?
  • How did you feel afterwards? Did you feel satisfied? Or were you ashamed and felt guilty?

The truth is, we don’t always eat because we are hungry. Did you know that they are 8 different types of hunger? Eating too much once in a while is normal. I do that myself especially if it’s a celebration. However if you feel that your eating is out of control and you tend to think about food all the time, then watch this video through. It’s important for you to identify your hunger. If you are constantly binging in foods, to need to recognise why this is happening and learn the steps to help you to eat more mindfully.


1) Physical Hunger

This is the real kind of hunger. You can PHYSICALLY feel the hunger. Just like when our bladder stretches, it signals a need to pee. When you physically feel hungry, your stomach starts to growl, your blood sugar level drops, your energy is low and you have a hard time concentrating on the task you are doing. This is the kind of hunger where your body truly needs food and you should be eating!

Mindful Eating Tip:

Listen to your body’s physical cues and eat when you start to feel moderately hungry. Don’t leave it until you feel extremely hungry. This can often led to making bad food choices and eating too much food at one sitting. Eating more calories, can also lead to weight gain.


2) Nutritional Hunger

Does this sound like you? “I feel hungry all the time, and I can just eat and eat and eat, and I still don’t feel satisfied”.

Chances are you might be feeding your body with crappy meals. Meals that are high in calories, but low in nutrients. Yes, you will feel full, but only for a short period of time. After 30 minutes or an hour, you’ll start feeling hungry again. 

This is because our body naturally craves for nutrients and real food! Because you’re not getting proper nutrients from junk foods, your brain will tell you to eat and eat. But instead of eating a nutrient-dense meal, you ended up eating more crap, consume far more calories than what your body needs and you still feel unsatisfied.

It’s a vicious cycle: eat crappy food –> don’t get the nutrients your body needs –> don’t feel satisfied –> eat more crap food and eventually, wow, where did the extra weight and tummy come from!

Mindful Eating Tip:
If this sounds like you, pay attention to what you feed your body. Eat real foods, foods that are minimally processed and packed with nutrients. Feeding your body with nutritious meals will leave you feeling satisfied for much longer. Hence you won’t be in the vicious cycle of craving from more foods. If you need help to get started, do check out my YouTube channel for lots of simple wholesome recipes and also meal plans.


3) Emotional / Heart Hunger

We live in a culture where we turn to food to fix everything! We associate food with happiness and comfort. Hence whenever we feel the opposite, such as feeling stressed, tired, bored, lonely, sad or angry, we try to use food to fix our emotions.

Instead of dealing with the deeper issue, we want instant gratification because we want to feel better. It’s similar to how some people turn to alcohol or drugs. It works, but for a very short time. When it’s over, we often end up feeling worse and hate ourselves for binge eating.

It’s important to recognise that emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach, you don’t physically feel hungry. You crave for specific comfort food; for instance you want to have ice cream or chocolate to make you feel better.

This often leads to mindless eating. Instead of having few pieces of chocolate or few scoops of ice-cream, you loss control and ended up eating the entire block of chocolate or the entire ice-cream tub. And yet, you still don’t feel emotionally satisfied, even when you are extremely stuffed. At the end of this cycle, instead of making you feel better, you end up feel shameful, regretful and guilty over the food you’ve just eaten.

Mindful Eating Tip:
If you’re an emotional eater, the next time you’re stressed out and have the urge to reach for a snack, put the food down, take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself “What am I asking the food to do for me?”

If it’s link to an emotional trigger, don’t reject the emotion, instead bring awareness to your feelings and you might be able to find other ways to satisfy them. If you feel down, call a friend to have a chat with or read a self-development book that might help you through your issues. If you are stressed out over work, then spend 5 minutes away from your laptop or phone, and just lay down for awhile or drink a cup of tea to calm you down. Shift your thinking away from food, and change the action to feed your emotion not your body!


4) Habit Hunger

Breakfast at 8am, lunch at 1pm, dinner at 7pm. You eat because you’ve trained your body to eat at a specific time. There is nothing wrong with this because it can in fact be a good eating habit and prevent overeating. However habit hunger can be an issue if we subconsciously associate food to a certain activity. For instance do you snack when you go to the movies or watch Netflix at home? Let’s face it, chances are you are not hungry and you don’t really need to munch. This is a learned habit which we develop over time. And now that we are spending more time watching TV at home, that’s where the extra snacking is coming from.

Mindful Eating Tip:
If this is you, start to break the habit by having a warm cup of tea or keep your hands busy by doing something else such as knitting, or arranging a puzzle. You don’t have to keep your mouth busy!


5) Sense Hunger (Sight, Smell, Taste)

Imagine this, you already had your lunch and you’re supposed to meet a friend over coffee. When you are at the café, all the cakes displayed look so yummy and you are convince that they would taste good as well. Suddenly you have space for more food. So instead of just having a cup of coffee as planned, you ended up ordering a piece of cake to go along with your coffee. Rather than listening to what your body needs, you’re letting your senses; the sight, the smell and the taste of the food to control you.

Mindful Eating Tip:

If this sounds like you, before you make an impulsive decision, stop for a moment, look at the temptations and ask yourself, “Am I hungry? Will eating that piece of cake make me feel good afterwards?”

If you answer, “No, I will only feel guilty”. Then step away and don’t have it. If however, you decided to go ahead and treat yourself, instead of scarfing it down, enjoy the cake with all your senses and share it with your friend. Look, smell, take small and slow bites to fully appreciate the taste and texture. Remember, one slice of cake once in a while won’t make you gain weight, but scarfing them down mindlessly out of shame on a regular basis while!


6) Boredom Hunger

Most of us are probably struggling with this right now, especially if your country is in a lockdown. I mean, what do you do at home? You’re probably spending many hours watching videos, scrolling through social media, while munching away. When you have nothing to do, it's very tempting to visit the fridge or grab something from the kitchen cabinets. Have you actually counted how many times you’ve opened and closed your fridge and food cupboard today?

Mindful Eating Tip:

To fight against this habit, you got to find a different activity to get outside the boredom zone immediately. If I find myself sitting on the couch for more than half an hour munching away, I’ll force myself to get up and put on a workout video from FIO and start working out. It’s only a 30 minute workout, but it always makes me feel so much better afterwards. I’m burning calories and not consuming more calories. I would also play with my dog, Rusty, and also do some reading to keep myself occupied. I think this is in fact the best time for you to pick up a new hobby or skills, and improve yourself. So there’s no excuse of feeling bored and wasting your time.


7) Environmental Hunger

Now that you are spending a lot of time at home with your family and probably cooking a lot more often, this can also lead to overeating. I mean, come on, mom’s home cooked meals are the best! Everyone is enjoying it and we have to finish it to keep her happy. Let’s face it, sometimes our family members can be an unintended saboteur by encouraging you to keep eating. “Come on, eat more. I made these cookies, you got to try them, eat more, they are delicious”.

Mindful Eating Tip:
If you have such friends, or family members, you need to learn when to say NO and that you have had enough of food. It will be challenging especially to your family, but if you can have an open conversation with them, and share with them your fitness goals, then perhaps they can be more understanding and supportive towards you.


8) Hormonal Hunger

Ladies, you know very well what I’m talking about. You’ve been doing so well with your eating routine, and a few days before your period, your hormone changes and suddenly you crave for all the bad stuff! This is so me. In fact it just happened to be a couple of days ago. I lost control and just wanted sweet desserts, savoury snacks, and nothing seemed to satisfied me. And I ended up feeling bloated.

Mindful Eating Tip:
You don’t have to deprive yourself but what is important is that you’re aware of the hormonal changes that are happening in your body. So when you indulge, eat in a mindful way and really enjoy your food. You will feel satisfied with less and you will be in control of the situation. Soon, the cravings will fade away and you'll find balance again.



For the next 3 days, I want you to record EVERY single thing you ate and then determine what kind of hunger it was. Ask yourself, why did you eat it? Were you physically hungry or were you just stressed or bored? Was it a habit-based decision? or because everyone else was eating. Write it down and share your thoughts with me in the comments below. 

By recognising which hunger you are experiencing, you will be able to take the right approach to satisfy it. Eventually, you will be in control of your eating habits, rather than allowing your emotions or surrounding to control you.



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