Can you tell the difference between a hunger vs. craving? If not, you are not the only one. That said, even though it isn’t commonly understood, you can still benefit from knowing the difference between the two. Even better, by understanding the difference, you’ll be able to make better choices to help control your weight, lose weight more efficiently, and even save money by avoiding the inclination to overeat.
Hunger vs. Craving
To make things easier for you, here’s an overview of the hunger vs. craving difference. It will help you to better know the difference, how to tell which one you’re feeling, and how to react appropriately and healthfully.
To put it simply, hunger is your body’s need, while cravings are the mind’s desire. Just like the need for shelter, social interaction and even sex drive, hunger is built into the human body and is just another call for fuel to function throughout the day. Most of the time, however, it is just your mind lusting over that rich chocolate fudge cake when your body actually will just be fine without it.
Craving What You Want
Food cravings contribute to unhealthy calorie buildup, as usually the food we crave will most likely not be a green salad or hearty oatmeal. So, the question is how to really tell the difference between a hunger vs. craving, so it doesn’t become a problem.
Hunger for What You Need
Hunger is physical, and stems from the signals from your stomach, the sugar level in your blood and other biological signals. We all know the feeling of an empty stomach but recognize that fatigue, lightheadedness, headache and sudden change in mood can also be products of hunger or lack of energy. Rating your hunger can be an effective strategy for knowing when to eat. Eating when you are moderately hungry can help prevent overeating when your hunger reaches a ‘ravenous’ state and abstaining from consuming foods at all when you are not hungry.
Know it is hunger when it doesn’t go away unless you satisfy it with some food and intensifies over time. Cravings, however, are emotional and are generally for a particular food or drink, like pasta or margarita. These food desires are caused by emotions, associations, hormones, physical needs and memories. When you crave food, you are not physiologically hungry but emotionally, and waiting out your cravings helps get rid of them. They also don’t intensify over time, can be avoided and may occur even if you’ve just eaten.
How to Beat Hunger vs Cravings
Behavior scientists have deduced a number of ways to conquer cravings, and the best approach is to distract yourself with other thoughts or activities and just simply let time pass. Try watching a movie, chatting with a friend or playing with your pet. Another head-on approach is to actually tell yourself that you are not hungry and won’t give in to the temptation.
The stronger your willpower, the easier it will be for you to simply flick those lusty thoughts aside. When stressed or bored (that’s when emotional cravings are at their peak), instead of munching on a bag of crisps, try celery sticks with a little peanut butter, carrots, baked tortilla chips or non-buttered popcorn. Drink a lot of water, as it will fill your stomach’s capacity, and the thought of a large pizza may not be as tempting.
Self-awareness and proper diet management to determine what and why you eat will give you a good lead towards conquering your food addiction or weight issues.
Now that you know how hunger vs. craving works, perhaps you can make better food decisions.