Hunger is not as straightforward as we might imagine, and neither is what we do with it. Internal versus external hunger cues, can you tell the difference?
Internal hunger cues are signals that originate from within the body and indicate that it is time to eat. These cues can include physical sensations such as growling or rumbling in the stomach, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or experiencing low energy levels. Often these cues become more acute if you are battling against low blood sugar, or a high insulin response to a food you ate earlier or even the day before.
Fatigue from poor sleep as well as stress can accentuate your hunger cues as well. Making them more noticeable as well as more frequent.
External hunger cues, on the other hand, are stimuli that come from the environment and may influence a person’s desire to eat. These cues can include seeing or smelling food, being in a social setting where food is present, or being prompted to eat by external cues such as ads or food packaging.
It is important to pay attention to both internal and external hunger cues in order to maintain a healthy relationship with food. It can be helpful to focus on internal hunger cues and eat when the body is truly hungry, rather than simply responding to external cues or emotional triggers.
Here are some tips for practicing recognizing your hunger cues:
- Pay attention to your body’s physical signals: These can include a growling stomach, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or having low energy.
- Notice your emotions: Are you feeling irritable, anxious, bored, or depressed when you start looking for food? It could be you are turning to food to distract you from uncomfortable feelings.
- Keep track of your eating habits: Write down what you eat and when you eat it and how long it keeps you satiated. This can help you identify patterns and recognize when you are eating out of habit rather than hunger.
- Experiment with different types of food: Try eating different types of food to see how they affect your hunger and fullness levels. Some people find that protein and fiber-rich foods keep them feeling full for longer periods of time.
- Practice mindful eating: When you eat, focus on the experience of eating and pay attention to your body’s cues. This can help you become more aware of your hunger and fullness levels.
By practicing recognizing your hunger cues, you can learn to eat in a way that is more in tune with your body’s needs. This can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall health and well-being.