The human mind if quite a funny, mysterious and complex organism of sorts, which is capable of things that sometimes go beyond its own comprehension, making us have reflexive and inexplicable feelings, and often really unnecessary needs, which are not good for us physically, and often times mentally as well. That is the case of hunger.
We’re obviously not stating that a person doesn’t actually need food every time they feel the desire to it – which is the definition of hunger – or, on the other extreme, that malnourished children and adults in poverty stricken countries don’t physically need it, but we are, however, saying that the mind can sometimes create a feeling of desire for food which the body doesn’t exactly need at that point.
Indulging in these feelings can be prejudicial for one’s health, as these cravings can often lead to binge eating, for instance, especially after long periods without consuming food, in which case a more balanced diet, with smaller periods in between eating could be a good lifestyle change. Indulging repeatedly in these ‘ false hunger’ feelings can also result in weight gain and obesity in the future, so it is definitely something that should be understood, so it can be monitored and controlled, if necessary.
That, however, leads us to the question of what is real hunger and what is not, and perhaps more importantly, how to tell the two apart.
It is quite unfortunate, but also likely, that most people probably feel the fake hungers’ a lot more often than they do the real thing. One may think a stomach rumbling or pain, or very strong headaches are a symptom of real hunger, but often they are not. They can result from your brain being mistakenly triggered into sending hunger hormones’ into the bloodstream, creating the physical discomfort that should signal hunger, but in fact doesn’t. Or in other cases, that discomfort can actually even be a sign of the opposite – the your body is too full, from eating heavy foods, for instance, and is thus detoxing. Eating will momentarily alleviate the sensations, but it will have a negative effect in the long run.
When one feels like eating just because it’s mealtime or because they feel uncomfortable, that’s likely not actual real hunger, but a response to an outside stimuli, or habit, or even an emotion or convention. None of those classify as real hunger, and most times, if the feeling is ignored, it will dissipate, proving just how unreal the feeling of hunger was.
Another tell-tale sign that one might not actually be hungry but rather feeling a sort of emotional craving, is the fact that the body seems to be asking’ for a kind of food, or rather a taste, in particular. This is usually a typical case of emotional eating, caused by sadness, stress or even boredom, and not by an actual need for food, and is the one that is more dangerous to be indulged, as it creates a habit, with disastrous consequences for body image, among other things.
Other ways to dissipate false hungers are for instance to drink a glass of water, as the sensations of thirst and hunger are often similar. If after consuming some water the person still feels the discomfort, they may actually be needing food. Or they could just be tired. Sometimes, one may feel weak or lightheaded, and even have some discomfort affecting their belly area, but not be hunger, and instead just be tired. Laying down and trying to get some sleep can be a good idea in these cases. If nothing else, it may help dissipate the hunger for a while, especially if it’s the case of a false sense of hunger. Although the result is quite different, exercising can also have a similar effect, and it’s a healthy way of dissipating an appetite while staying in shape, rather than overeating.
Now, we’ve been discussing all the ways a person can have a sense of false hunger, but there are also ways to tell if one is actually hungry. Hunger usually manifests itself by creating higher sensitivity in the mouth and throat, and surprisingly, it does cause one to salivate profusely. On the plus side, however, it also allows for a better taste and satisfaction when eating, which should certainly prove dissipating the ‘ false hungers’ more rewarding in the long run for those that truly appreciate food.