Different Types of Hunger

Picture this: You’re sitting at home when you hear the crinkling of a snack bag from the kitchen. You know immediately that your spouse or roommate is snacking on your favorite chips. You weren’t hungry before, but now your mouth starts watering and you ask them to bring you some.

Have you found yourself in this situation before?

Our eating habits and behaviors are constantly influenced by our senses, emotions, and societal cues. You might be surprised to learn that the hunger pains in your stomach are not the only type of hunger! 

There are actually 7 different types of hunger. By learning about each one, you can also learn how to identify factors in your life that trigger auto-pilot eating behaviors that can cause you to stray from your health goals.

Different types of hunger: 

  1. Eye Hunger. After a gigantic Thanksgiving dinner, you exclaim to your family that you are so stuffed, you couldn’t stomach another bite! Five minutes later, you SEE pie is brought to the table, and all of a sudden you have room in your stomach even though you were stuffed 5 minutes ago. 
  2. Nose hunger. You ate a later lunch, and tell your spouse there is NO way you’ll be hungry for dinner. However, as soon as you SMELL that pot of chili simmering in the kitchen, you’re immediately hungry for chili and cornbread and find room for that dinner you said you wouldn’t be having.
  3. Mouth hunger. Even though you aren’t hungry, you mindlessly grab an Oreo from the open package in the cupboard. You’re only going to have one! That first Oreo TASTES so good that a few minutes later, you’ve accidentally eaten the entire sleeve.
  4. Stomach hunger. This is probably the type of hunger you’re most familiar with. It occurs as a signal to your body in the form of HUNGER PAINS and a GRUMBLING STOMACH to get you to eat something!
  5. Cellular hunger. This occurs when your body is depleted of a particular vitamin or mineral. You start craving particular foods that contain the depleted nutrient because your BODY WANTS THE NOURISHMENT. Craving chocolate? You might be deficient in magnesium. Craving a big juicy steak? Perhaps you’re suffering from an iron deficiency.
  6. Mind Hunger. This occurs when you aren’t hungry, but then something triggers you to start THINKING about food. Now, it sounds so good that you’re hungry for it.
  7. Heart hunger. Are you an emotional eater? That’s heart hunger! Example: you’re going through an emotionally difficult time. You seem to be constantly craving for your mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies in particular because they always make you feel better. Perhaps it’s because the cookies remind you of your mom who has always been a SOURCE OF COMFORT for you.

By gaining awareness of what type of hunger triggers cause you to stray from your goals, you may be able to implement strategies to remove those triggers, reduce mindless eating habits, and improve your eating behaviors.

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