Last week we covered the three “Real” hungers. This week, we get to meet the “Fake” hungers. You might experience them as hungers because the feeling originates in your gut, but I call them “fake”. This is because the way to satiate them is not through food or water.
1. Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar is a common issue these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. It usually happens as a result of depending on low-quality sugars found in more than 80% of processed foods, energy drinks, fruit juices/cocktails and baked goods. Low blood sugar hunger might manifest in many different ways depending on the person. For me, for example, it expresses itself in a drop in my mood and resilience as well as an intense pain in my right shoulder. I became really familiar with these symptoms back when I used to suffer from hyperglycemia and was in the habit of eating every hour or two in order to keep the symptoms at bay. Other people might experience low blood sugar in the form of headaches, cramps, or lethargy.
What your body really wants is the naturally-occurring sugars found in fruits and some vegetables, and consumed as part of the whole fruit along with all the fiber that helps keep your blood sugar steady. Even then, your body will be happiest when fruits are only consumed seasonally (and not all year around). When you give your body a break from all sugars (including fruits and sweet vegetables) it becomes more efficient at finding other sources of energy and not depending on glucose.
2. Emotional Hunger
This is the most common form of dysfunctional eating. This doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means that it is not functional. In other words, it doesn’t take care of the root cause of the hunger. At best it serves as a temporary distraction from the discomfort caused by certain emotions. The way we live today leads to a lot of emotional emptiness – which we often fill with food. Many of us have also been raised (with the best of intentions) to suppress our emotional discomforts with food. The food industry knows how to market to our emotions, so unless we learn to connect to our emotions and take care of them in other ways, we fall prey to emotional food marketing.
3. Empty Stomach Feeling
Empty stomach hunger is a survival strategy and it’s designed to ensure that your behavioural response to an empty stomach is to look around – “If I see food, I should eat it.” Our stomachs are designed to stretch, because we used to live in feast or famine conditions. But in the 21st Century, this is no longer the case. Your stomach may feel empty, but it’s simply a feeling – and not one you need to heed.
Download and print this bookmark if you want a visual reminder of the 6 Human Hungers. This will help you develop your inner-listening skills.
It’s so fun to get to communicate with oneself – not just with the voices inside your head, but also with your gut. Keep listening and you will uncover a whole new way to take care of your real needs.
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.