In my Wellness Consults, I get a lot of people who on being asked whether you feel hungry at meal times and they answer with an affirmation, even though all the signs and symptoms say otherwise.
So who's correct here? Well, both! There are 2 kinds of hunger: real hunger and false hunger. Real hunger is when your body truly needs food and the stomach starts contracting in the absence of food and generates hormone Ghrelin which is sent to the hypothalamus in the brain where it binds with receptors in the neurons to produce hunger and thus we feel hungry.
The other hunger is false hunger in which the stomach doesn't really need food but in order to satisfy its emotional needs (cravings, stress, anger, sadness , depression etc) the brain communication between these hormones is altered and we turn to food as a coping mechanism.
It is important to be able to distinguish real from false hunger so that we can avoid useless calories since our brains are designed to love large and quick sources of energy like sugar & processed foods which we desire during times of cravings or emotional stress and its hard to feel satiated easily with these. That's why, most people tend to eat more when they are emotionally stressed.
So, how do we distinguish real hunger from false hunger? Here is a quick test to identify whether you are truly hungry or just need some emotional fulfillment:
Here's what to do:
If you are tired and hungry, then drink 1/2 cup of warm water and take a quick 10 min nap before food while lying on your left side. If this is true hunger; you will become really hungry after the nap. If this is emotional hunger, your appetite will disappear after the nap! Magic! Ain't it!
In case you are energetic and hungry; take a brief walk before food. Walking improves circulation and enhances appetite. If the hunger is real; then walking will enhance your hunger and if it was false hunger; it will disappear after the walk!
So eat only when there is real hunger and you truly feel hungry. This will definitely help you avoid gaining weight and also help shed off those extra pounds!
May the wisdom of the Vedas shine upon your soul
Ayurvedic Wellness Consultant
Health & Fitness Blogger
Founder of Vedic Sanctuary : Health & Wellness