Is it a Real Hunger or a Fake Hunger?

Being Hungry vs. Feeling Hungry

Last week I introduced you to the art of listening to your own body. We focused on learning to pay attention to how it’s communicating with you. This week I want to share a tool that will help you understand some of the messages your body might be sending you; The Six Human Hungers, which I learned from Eric Edmeades, founder of WILDFIT.

The first thing you need to recognize is that there’s a difference between being hungry and feeling hunger.

The feeling of hunger is like a baby’s cry. Babies cry because they need something, but food is only one of the possible needs they are crying for. Your job as a good listener is to distinguish the types of cries coming from your gut, and to respond according to the real need behind each type of cry. It might help to think of each of these types of hungers as a type of cry that’s coming from your body:

  1. Nutritional Hunger:
    This is one of the only genuine forms of hunger. This is “being hungry” instead of “feeling hunger”. This type of hunger occurs when your body is asking for nutrition. However, since our bodies have evolved to prevent starvation, we are prone to eating anything in sight – even when we know it’s not so good for us. The result is that people overeat but might continue to be undernourished. That is why this type of hunger may resurface two hours after a gigantic meal.

  2. Thirst:
    We evolved to get water from the food we ate (since clean water wasn’t always available to our ancestors), that’s why our body sends hunger signals when what we really need is hydration. Remember, when you feel hungry, you might actually be thirsty. Try eating some fruit, or a celery stick or drinking some water. Your body will be grateful for your listening skills.

  3. Variety Hunger:
    Cravings for variety are another protective mechanism that prevents deficiencies. Variety hunger is your body’s natural way of ensuring you get a wide range of nutrients. This is why you don’t like eating the same left overs three days in a row. This type of hunger is closely tied to Nutritional Hunger, as one cannot be satisfied for long without the other.


The next three are what I call Fake Hunger.

You might experience them as hungers because the feeling originates in your gut, but what your body is truly asking for is not more food or water. Here’s where your listening skills become very important. Let’s dig deeper into the Fake Hungers next week. For now, just practice listening to the first three types of hunger.

Have a smarter day, a smarter week and a smarter life,
Ginny Santos, your holistic coach.

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A love note from your future self:

One of my mistakes while learning to listen to our own body, was to focus on hearing what our taste buds had to say without paying much attention to what the gut was saying.

That’s why I’m so glad you are now learning to notice the different types of hunger and noticing the messages that come from below the jaw as well as above the jaw. Thank you for deepening your self-awareness.

Love, from your future self

Disclaimer: The content contained in this blog is for educational and inspirational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice because of something you may have read on this blog.

Dr. Anke Verlinden is an award-winning clinical haematologist at the University Hospital of Antwerp in Belgium. As a senior staff member, she specializes in treating patients with acute leukemia, guiding them through the process of stem cell transplantation. She initiated a project on the effects of mindfulness meditation on the immune system function and quality of life of cancer patients in 2019 while also deepening her understanding of the role that food plays in our health and wellbeing.

Anke is the mother of three kids, one of whom was born with severe heart disease. This, combined with the increasing number of questions from patients on the possible effects of nutrition and lifestyle on their healing process, gave rise to several years of study and experimentation in areas that are not covered in medical school, plus a nutrition science degree from Stanford Medical School and a certification in Functional Medicine. She is now also a WILDFIT certified coach as part of her effort to help patients recover better and more quickly from cancer treatment.