Is your hunger experienced above or below the neck?
Physical hunger is felt in the stomach and emotional hunger is usually a craving that you can’t get out of your head. It’s all-consuming and you may focus on the taste, texture or smell of the food and nothing else bar the food in question will satisfy you.
Does your hunger hit you instantly or has it come on gradually?
Emotional hunger tends to hit you instantly, while physical hunger comes on more gradually. If you are suddenly hit with an urge to eat right away then that’s emotional hunger and it’s a response to feeling stressed, upset or angry. Physical hunger is progressive and builds up over time. Initial signs trigger the feeling of ‘I should eat soon’ to ‘I need to eat now’ over a long period of time if you ignore it.
Is your hunger specific or general?
Emotional hunger tends to be specific for example, a craving for sugary or fatty foods that will give you an instant fix – perhaps the craving for a pizza and nothing else in the world will satisfy you. Physical hunger tends to be satisfied with regular healthy foods like vegetables, and you’ll know when to stop eating – unlike emotional eaters who generally binge until they feel uncomfortable.
Do you feel guilty after you’ve eaten?
Regret, guilt or shame tends to follow emotional eating. With physical hunger you give your body what it needs and you feel good and satisfied. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat.