Date of the last update: 26.04.2022
Hunger has many names and it is most often associated only with our physiology. And yet, it’s not so simple – hunger pangs are triggered by various factors, not only by low blood glucose level which causes our body send information to the hypothalamus. What types of hunger are there? How to distinguish them?
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Is the basic, physiological type of hunger – it can therefore be referred to as primary hunger. It is ingrained in us from birth. It usually appears a few hours after the last meal. It increases gradually, informing the body that we need to eat sometime soon, not immediately.
It is very easy to recognise, because our body consciously sends clear signals indicating the it’s time to tackle our energy deficit. These are above all muscle cramps in the stomach walls and a general feeling of weakness, accompanied by problems with concentration. It may also occasionally make us sleepy or angry. Physiological hunger can be postponed, but this is not a recommended practice. Eating at the onset of hunger is a natural thing to do.
Heart hunger, or the so-called apparent hunger
Heart hunger or emotional eating, as the name says, is strictly linked with emotions that we feel in a given moment. It can be stress, sadness or anger. In contrast to physical hunger, it is characterized by a sudden craving to eat specific food.
The need to satisfy your craving is strong and requires immediate fulfillment. But very often the heart hunger doesn’t go away even when you fill up your stomach and feel full. In some cases, it can be associated with a strong sense of guilt after the hunger pang has ended.
It’s easy to recognize heart hunger – it is so much different from stomach hunger. But it’s not easy to cope with it. To tame it you need to name the negative emotions and satisfy your real needs rather than substitute them up with food.
Hunger on a diet, or hidden hunger
Hidden hunger is when your body does not feel the physical need to eat, but does not receive an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals, which makes both your body and mind weak.
Although hidden hunger is not common in first world countries, it can occur if you eat an unhealthy diet, and is mostly related to elimination diets that are followed for a longer time than recommended. In this way, you do not supply your body with the nutrients necessary for it to function properly.
You can recognise this type of hunger by taking blood tests that indicate deficiencies in specific substances. However, your health and well-being may be a clear signal in itself to suspect that you are experiencing hidden hunger.
Hunger is a complex sensation, caused by various factors. Thus, each of us should learn to distinguish the types of hunger and respond correctly to the needs of the body.