What hunger really is. And how to own it.


Pork crackle and chocolate. Emotional or sensational?  Did you know to return to your natural body weight, you need to understand what your true hunger signals are?

My two favourite tools to teach are the Hunger Scale, which we looked at last week and learning the difference between the feeling of hunger and the sensation of hunger. Real hunger is a signal from our body to eat.  It’s the evolutionary call that has kept us alive and thriving. But we often confuse real hunger for emotional hunger. In the context of weight loss, it super helpful to understand the difference. The sensation of hunger is felt in the body, it a signal from the body telling the brain "let's eat." You can recognise this as deep rumble or cavey feeling in the gut. This is the body wanting fuel. The brain will respond with a thought like: “I need to eat.” “I've got to put something in my belly.” This is a true huger signal.
 It's not concerned about what to eat. It just wants fuel. The emotion of hunger is quite different. Emotional hunger is the brain looking for comfort or entertainment. It's the brain suggesting to the body, “hey we could eat.” The signals to alert us to emotional eating are when we want something really specific, like spaghetti Bolognese or Mums lasagne or chocolate cherry cheesecake. This is not about fuel for the body, it's about fun or avoidance. Neither hunger signals need to be listened to like it a bushfire warning from the CFA. Neither is urgent. The snack food industry and our Mums like to make us think hunger is an emergency. But it’s not. For sure you can see where emotional eating contributes to weight gain. But we also don’t need to act urgently to the sensation of hunger either. In fact, when you experience true hunger and don’t act on it, you give your body a chance to access its fats stores like it was designed to do. When you respond to hunger by putting food in your mouth, the body has to deal with that first.  When you don't, your body turns in on itself and looks for what has been stored and uses that for energy. 

I describe this to my clients as Dining In.  It's the perfect restaurant.  No bill, no dishes, no fat!



This is the principle around reduced eating windows and intermittent fasting and is a sure way to encourage fat loss.  Defining emotional hunger and the sensation of hunger takes a little practice. (I show you how here)  But it's so worthwhile because it makes sense to the brain as to why we eat or don't. So the next time you crave pork crackle, notice you are looking for entertainment. But the next time you belly rumbles, let it. Your about to access your fat stores. Have a great week. Maree






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