How Can You Tell if You’re Actually Hungry?

Although it might sound strange at first, recognizing when your body is telling you it’s hungry is actually a skill. People eat for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger – for example, because it’s “dinner time” or because they’re feeling emotional or bored. Or maybe you see a big slice of pie and decide it’s making you hungry.

But there are true signs of physical hunger. Here are they are:

  • Your stomach might be rumbling
  • Your stomach might feel empty
  • You have actual hunger pangs
  • When you’re hungry, even very simple foods (like carrots) will sound good to you.
  • You may feel like you’re lacking energy or weak after having not eaten for a period of time.

In order to know if you’re actually, physically hungry, it might be helpful to do a mental check-in before eating.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you feeling anxious or stressed out about something?
  • Are you feeling sadness or other emotions that were triggered by something happening in your day?
  • When is the last time that you ate a meal or snack? When did you last drink water?
  • Are you experiencing the true signs of hunger (listed above)?

Try keeping a journal with notes about when you want to eat, and list what led you to believe you were ready to eat. Was it hunger? Something else? Just take notice of any themes — emotions, triggers, habits and times of the day. You will probably learn quite a bit when you look back over a couple of days of notes.

Finally, if you have type 2 diabetes, you might be worried about having hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, which are related to feeling hungry or full.

Learn how to identify hypoglycemia.