There Are 6 Types of Hunger, Here’s The Psychology Behind Them

Do you think you always eat when you are genuinely hungry? Does your hunger control your eating patterns? Do you often fall into a guilt-trap after binge-eating? Then you should read further.

Mindless eating can harm your physical and mental health. And that’s where the psychology of eating healthy comes into play. It is about identifying food-related behaviors and taking control of your appetite to get nourishment for the body, maintain metabolism and feel great throughout the day.

Here we discuss six different types of hunger to help you stay mindful while eating and avoid binging on unhealthy foods.

Types of Hunger

1. Eye Hunger:

Eye hunger happens when your eyes signal the mind that you need to eat [1]. In this case, it’s not your body that wants food but your eyes. Imagine this, you just had dinner and see that ice-cream cart, which seems too good to pass.

Here, your eyes send the message to the brain that ice cream is tempting and your body needs it, when in reality your stomach is full. Hence, your peepers override the information from the body, stomach and mouth, making you consume unhealthy food at odd times.

Signs: Getting allured by the food that’s in front of you even though you are full.

Manage eye hunger: Instead of rushing to have the food that you just saw, stop and notice with awareness. Be mindful. Tell your mind that you feel content, are no longer hungry and don’t need to eat more.

2. Nose Hunger:

In this, you feel hungry after smelling the aroma of the food. For instance, the tempting smell of freshly baked cake can generate the urge to have it even though you are not hungry. In fact, research shows that food odors influence food choices and desire to consume those items [2].

Signs: Smell of food evoke a feeling of hunger

Managing nose hunger: Try telling yourself that your nose is tricking your brain and that you are full. Being mindful and aware helps.

3. Mouth Hunger:

This type of hunger arises when you want to eat something that has a particular texture or taste [3]. This is mainly connected to our food habits in the family, cultural traditions, conditioning and even genetics. It may include how salty, sweet or spicy we want our foods to be, and could lead to mindless eating and cravings.

Signs: Wanting to eat something that has a particular flavor or texture. Example – crunchy chips or chocolates.

Managing mouth hunger:  Instead of swallowing the food after a few bites, chew your food slowly. This helps you relish it better.

4. Stomach Hunger:

The growling feeling in your stomach, as if something is eating away inside may indicate that you are actually hungry [4]. 

Signs: Grouchy feeling in the stomach, light-headedness

Managing stomach hunger: While eating food, be aware of how full you are feeling. Once in a while, pause for a few seconds and ask yourself, “If you are still hungry?” [5].

5. Cellular Hunger:

When our body demands specific items like citrus juices, salads, starch, protein, solids, etc. we term it as cellular hunger [1]. Our minds crave specific nutrients when we lack them in the body and cellular hunger is a way to tell us exactly that [6]. This type of hunger is more difficult to register as other types easily override it.

Signs: Craving for specific foods       

Managing cellular hunger: Have a healthy balanced diet with the right nutrients. Add supplements to your routine if needed.

6. Heart Hunger:

Also termed as emotional eating, heart hunger is often related to our emotions, wherein we resort to certain “comfort foods” to make ourselves feel loved or better [7]. Research reveals that people in a negative state of mind (sad, stressed out, angry) opt for comfort foods to satiate their emotions.

Signs: Unpleasant emotions and mindless eating

Managing Heart Hunger: Be patient, slow down, take a few moments to understand what your body really needs right now. It could be carb, protein, rest, listening to music, going for a walk, etc.


  6. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship  

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