Three Sure-Fire Ways to Tell It's Not Head Hunger
The concept of head hunger may require some adjustment, especially if you have become habitual about cutting a path to the fridge the moment an image of food enters your mind. Perhaps you are not accustomed to distinguishing between head hunger and physical hunger. Perhaps eating without giving consideration to whether or not you are actually hungry is something that's simply become habitual? Well now that you are committed to weight loss and good health, you may want to consider the distinction between head hunger and physical hunger.
Head Hunger vs. Physical Hunger**Head hunger is more associated with those who have problems controlling how much they eat. It is a relative of ** emotional eating** rather than a physiological response to the body's need for food. Head hunger is an urge to eat out of habit, or an attempt to provide self-comfort.
Physical hunger is more general and can be addressed by consuming any type of food, while mental hunger is often more specific and is satisfied by consuming a specific food or specific taste. Physical hunger builds gradually and gets stronger over time, while head hunger comes on suddenly and demands immediate satisfaction. In addition, physical hunger ends once you eat but head hunger can cease if you distract yourself.
Three Ways to Distinguish Between Head Hunger and Physical Hunger
Physical hunger is characterized by a sensation that often feels like a gnawing. This feeling occurs due to an interaction between the digestive system, endocrine system, and brain. It is a mechanism that ensures that your body is getting the fuel it needs to function. Physical hunger also includes chemical changes in the body related to low glucose levels that are present several hours after eating.
Head hunger is a conditioned response to food that is sensory or psychological and triggers an involuntary response such as salivation or stomach contractions. It is the habit of using food in times of stress and is immediate.
_**A second way to distinguish between head hunger and physical hunger is to use the ** rating of perceived hunger (RPH) scale**. The RPH scale helps people become aware of body hunger and satiety cues. Hunger perception is rated on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 as the point for extreme hunger and 10 as the point of extreme fullness. The target numbers are between three and eight. People should begin eating at level three where the urge is strong but not extreme, and stop at level eight when they are comfortably full. It is important to eat slowly because it takes the brain fifteen to twenty minutes to sense that the stomach is full.
Finally, a person should learn to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Physical hunger occurs every 3 to 4 hours. If the hunger cues are ignored they will pass, and the body will slow down to conserve energy. When hunger returns it will be more extreme.
Ignoring hunger cues is not recommended because when a person finally eats they have a tendency to overeat.
Emotional hunger is when people eat because they are sad, happy, anxious or bored. Using food as an emotional crutch is problematic, and substitute behaviors must be learned. The possibility of having an eating disorder also exists, and if this is suspected it might be necessary to consult a registered dietitian, psychologist, or physician.