The Hunger Games - part 1 | Dietitian Cape town

On the 14th of May 2015 Munchwize Registered Dietitians, Cape Town, took part in the first High Tea Health Series. Thank you to those who attended. For those that missed it, this is going to be a monthly event at High Tea Coffee shop. You will be treated to High Tea’s healthy high tea delights together with an interesting nutrition talk and food meditation.

For those that missed it, the first topic was on hunger.

Our bodies are designed with a feedback mechanism that should tell us when we are hungry or full. Unfortunately, there are factors that can undermine the natural signals from your body to stop eating. These include the following:

1. Palatability of food: What we choose to eat and how much we eat is strongly influenced by how our food tastes. Food is not just about nutrition. It offers readily available and affordable feelings of pleasure. This is why it can be so easy to go overboard, even when there is no real physiological/physical hunger involved.

2. Conditioned responses: Sometimes eating can simply be a habit. If you have always eaten something when you get home from work, you usually continue to do this regardless of if you are hungry or not. You are responding in this way simply because it is your normal routine.

Habit can be a difficult thing to change. It takes about 21 days to break a habit. And therefore we need to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight and that the more you practice breaking a habit or healthier behaviour, the easier it will get.

3. Stress: Many people experience stress as a normal part of their daily life yet few of us have the training to be able to cope with stress effectively and efficiently. Some of us turn to food in times of stress and this is partly related to that feel-good-factor that food can so readily provide.

Eating habits are often affected by our feelings. In fact for many of us, real hunger is one of the least important reasons for wanting food. We all need to identify what type of hunger we are experiencing and increase our awareness of this throughout the day.

There are different forms of hunger that we have all experienced at one time or another. These include:

  • Head huger: This is when you eat out of habit, it is our conditioned response. You convince yourself each time why you need to eat.
  • Throat hunger: This is when we confuse being thirsty with being hungry. We often make the mistake of grabbing something to eat when we are in fact just thirsty.
  • Heart hunger: This is when our emotions and things like stress filter down into our food space and we use food as a form of comfort. Many of us get this incorrect programming from our parents as we grow up and it can be a difficult habit to break.
  • Stomach hunger: This is when you are physically hungry and your body needs nutritious food to satisfy this hunger.  A hunger scale is a great tool to utilize to figure out if we are physically hungry. Ask yourself how hungry am I on a scale? (see an example of a hunger scale above)

Here are some ways to figure out if your hunger is physically or emotionally triggered.

  • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly while physical hunger comes on gradually.
  • Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied immediately vs.  Physical hunger that can wait
  • Emotional hunger craves specific foods vs. Physical hunger that is open to a variety of foods
  • Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied while physical hunger will usually stop once you are full
  • Emotional hunger triggers feelings of guilt, shame etc.

We all need to try to eat only when our hunger is physical hunger.

For more information on decoding our hunger and cravings, why not read our follow up blog: The Hunger Games – part 2

Need some assistance in deciphering your hunger. Come and book an appointment with Munchwize Registered Dietitians. We are based in Claremont.

For more information on our monthly High Tea events, please contact Munchwize Registered dietitians in Cape Town or Fran from Tuning In






Reference: Emotional eating. Eat for life talk series