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Cravings vs. Hunger

We’ve all felt it at one time or another, that overwhelming feeling that we NEED to have a certain food. Yes, this is a craving. It can be difficult to differentiate between a craving and actual hunger. We NEED to eat when we are hungry, but we do not need to eat when we have a craving, even though it feels like we have to. Hunger is a need for food. It is your body’s way of letting you know that it needs energy. Hunger for food is built into our genes, which is based on our instincts to survive.
Typically, any type of food can satisfy your hunger, and also typically, once your hunger has been satisfied, you will stop eating. A craving is a powerful desire for food, usually a specific type of food. They are usually brought on by hormones and/or emotions.
Cravings do not indicate your body’s need for energy, so it is not the same as hunger. It’s hunger when:
  1. It doesn’t go away, but intensifies over time.
  2. It only goes away when you eat.
  3. You have physical indicators such as a growling stomach, headache, or dizziness.
  4. You get grouchy, sleepy, or sluggish.
It’s a craving when:
  1. You are not physically hungry.
  2. The thought of eating goes away when you are distracted by other things.
  3. The feeling does not become more intense as time goes by.
  4. You are emotional about eating a certain type of food.
  5. You want the comfort of certain food types, such as warm, cold, sweet, crunchy, salty or creamy.
  6. You are bored, stressed, or have other emotions. Researchers have found that cravings for certain types of food are often connected to their ingredients. The chart listed below contains ideas on foods you can eat when you have a craving for things that might not be that healthy.
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