6 Ways to Know if You’re Actually Hungry

Get the skinny on whether it's hunger...or a hankering.

Do you really need to fuel your body? Or are you caving to mindless eating? A lifetime of less-than-ideal eating habits can make it hard to recognize the difference. When you want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to learn what is genuine hunger and what is genuine habit. Here are 6 ways to know if you’re actually hungry.

1. Check the clock.

Eating regularly throughout the day helps the body maintain even blood sugar levels and reduce cravings. If you’ve eaten within the last two to three hours, chances are good you’re feeling a craving rather than actual hunger. Instead of snacking, fill your tummy with one of these 5 Teas to Promote Weight Loss.

2. Listen for that grumble.

Those familiar rumbles and grumbles, known as borborygmi in medical-speak, occur when the digestive system contracts to push out remaining food particles and fluid so it can make room for the next meal. Grumbles don’t always indicate hunger, but if it’s been two to three hours since your last meal, it’s likely they’re telling you your body needs food. Satisfy hunger the healthy way with 10 Simple Fat-Burning Snacks for Busy Moms (or anyone else with a busy schedule!) or Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches.

3. Check your energy levels.

Another way to know if you’re hungry is to take stock of how energetic you feel. Do you seem a bit sluggish? This can indicate you need the boost that comes from a nutrient-packed meal or snack. Inject pep into your day with a snack like No-Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Energy Bites or try one of these 21 Energy-Boosting Lunches.

4. Give yourself a 15-minute time-out.

When you get the urge to munch, don’t listen right away. Wait about 15 minutes. While you wait, try 3 Delicious Cleanse & Detox Waters or sweat it out with 15 Workouts in Under 10 Minutes. If at the end of the wait you’re still feeling the munchies, go ahead and eat a nutritious snack.

5. Rate your hunger.

Before you eat, rate your hunger on a scale from one to five. This routine forces you to be more mindful of eating habits. If you’d rate yourself at a four or five, you’re likely feeling more habit than hunger.
1 – You’re feeling weak, starving, famished, or hangry.
2 – You’re hungry enough that you could eat right now.
3 – You’re not necessarily hungry, but you don’t feel full either.
4 – You’re feeling satisfied, but not overly full.
5 – You’re still full from your last meal or snack.

6. Take the healthy veggie test.

Ask yourself if whatever you’re feeling would be satisfied if you ate a vegetable, like broccoli, carrot, or peppers. If the answer is “yes,” then you may be genuinely hungry. However, if you don’t think you’ll be satisfied with an uber-healthy food choice, then you’re probably experiencing a craving rather than true hunger. Find new healthy snack ideas in 29 Superfood Snacks Under 150 Calories.

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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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