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 in the guilt-trap after relishing the food that you always wanted to avoid? 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 out eating behaviors and taking control of our appetite to gain actual benefits of food, which include providing nourishment to the body, maintaining metabolism and feeling great throughout the day!

Here we discuss six different types of hunger to help you make out what type of hunger you have.

Types of Hunger

1. Eye Hunger:

Eye hunger happens when your eyes signal the mind that it is hungry [1]. In this case, it’s not your body that wants the 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 it is allured by the image of the ice cream, which is in front of you and that you should have it. Here the eyes override the information from the body, stomach and mouth, hence called the eye hunger.

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, no longer hungry and don’t need to eat more.

2. Nose Hunger:

Smells can evoke different kinds of responses. This is a type of hunger, where 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 depicts that food odours influence food choices and desire to consume certain foods [2].

Signs: Smell of food evoke a feeling of hungriness

Managing nose hunger: Engage in the smell of the food. Tell yourself that food is not on your mind since you already had your breakfast, lunch or snacks.

3. Mouth Hunger:

This type of hanger arises when you want to eat something that has a particular texture or taste [3]. This has much to do with our food habits in the family, cultural traditions, conditioning and even genetics. This may include how salty, sweet or spicy we want our foods to be. This could lead to mindless eating as though our stomach may be full, our mouth would still crave for more sensation of taste.

Signs: Wanting to eat something that has a particular flavor or texture – examples, include pastry, chocolate or chips.

Managing mouth hunger:  Instead of swallowing the food after a few chews, chew your food slowly.

4. Stomach Hunger:

The growling feeling in your stomach, as if something is eating away inside may indicate that you are hungry [4]. However, this cue may at times be misleading because we inadvertently train our body to feel hungry by eating at the same time every day.

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 what our mind is asking for such as citrus juices, salads, starch, protein or solids etc. then we term it as cellular hunger [1]. Our minds crave specific nutrients during certain times and cellular hunger is a way to tell us exactly that [6]. This type of hunger is more difficult to bring awareness to as other types of hunger easily override cellular hunger.

Signs: Craving for specific foods       

Managing cellular hunger: Eating healthily is a way to nourish your body with the right nutrients

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

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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