What Are The 6 Human Hungers And Why Do They Matter?
11 March 2021
Human hungers are our natural hunger patterns. Most of us are not even aware of them. There’s a lack of research about hunger, even in the fitness world. So, what are ‘human hungers’ and why do they matter?
Last year I stumbled across a guy who has studied these hunger patterns for years. His research took him to tribes around the world to test his theories. His name is Eric Edmeades and his work changed my relationship with food, so I wanted to share it with you too.
When I stumbled across Eric’s approach I had to test it straight away. It was amazing at how much it taught me about my body and I have continued to be aware of my hungers ever since.
We eat because our body needs things (obviously) but why do we eat what we eat and when we do? Why do we make specific food choices? Let’s go through them in more detail so you can see for yourself how it works and when they come up you can be ready!
Human Hunger 1: Thirst
When we begin to get dehydrated our body reacts and sends a message to our brain. Often we eat, rather than drink. And, nowadays, with fast food to hand everywhere we turn, we end up eating all the wrong foods. Which leads to our body not being satisfied. So, we go back for more and the cycle continues. Boo - not fun or good for us!
The message here is that we must stay hydrated so we don't get a false sense of hunger. Our bodies are programmed to recognise thirst as hunger. It all stems from our ancestors’ way of life. Early humankind did not have running water or pottery to use for water bottles. That meant they weren’t able to carry water easily, so a lot of their hydration came from the food they ate. They ate a huge amount of water-based foods, such as plants. So, naturally, that established a communication system within the body that when we’re dehydrated we need to eat.
The problem is most of the food we eat in modern times is convenience food. We reach for chocolate or crisps - which have zero water in them. So what’s the answer? If you feel hungry, drink water first! Then see how you feel.
Human Hunger 2: Emotions
Really stop and think here. How do your emotions affect your eating habits? This is huge for everyone.
Think of the joy we have when we eat something sweet. Often at a time of celebration, like a birthday party. Our brains make the connection then automatically link happiness to those sweet food types. We forget it’s a feeling you created in the moment, not the food itself that brought the happiness!
Recognising this linkage between your emotions and food is hugely beneficial. To understand emotional eating you need to find your links (or triggers) and become aware of them.
When upset or lonely do you reach for chocolate to make you feel better? Becoming aware of your emotions and linking them is a powerful step, especially if you are an ‘emotional eater.’ It gives you choice in each moment. There are a million ways to change your emotions that don’t involve food. You can always choose the cake if you want to – but you get to do it deliberately and consciously, not because of your brain’s programming.
Human Hunger 3: Variety
We love variety! We have since our ancestors got bored and went in search of more new horizons and new food. They would hunt for different foods - which brought variety as the seasons changed. Back then they would have hunted animals, picked fruits from trees, and then grown vegetables themselves.
Nowadays life just isn’t like that. Which is a relief, but how easy is it to get that variety? In short, very easy in the age of 24 hour supermarkets and other modern conveniences! We can have a variety on our plates in all our servings within minutes, every day. So, it’s all about managing our variety, not getting bored and making balanced and healthy choices.
Remember we all need variety in our diets. It is choosing the RIGHT variety that is key!
Human Hunger 4: Low Blood Sugar
That afternoon slump feeling we get is because we need to boost our blood sugar. We usually reach for the closest thing possible when we dip - probably something like a chocolate bar or biscuit. That’s when we experience the quick spikes of energy. We become addicted to unhealthy carbs for this exact reason.
When you change to a steady flow of healthy (unprocessed) foods throughout your day, you will eliminate the need for snacking and in return won't experience the blood sugar rollercoaster.
Human Hunger 5: Empty Stomach Hunger
Your stomach is much smaller than you think – it’s about the size of your fist. Which means that often when we feel hungry, it’s not because you genuinely need to eat. When your stomach is empty it growls doesn’t it? We have been taught that this must mean it is time to eat. But that growling is only a sensation. It happens because of poor nutrition. We are literally starving our bodies of nutritious foods. So, we become ‘hungry’ and eat more of nutritionally-empty foods. We don’t need to do that. The reason our bodies evolved to ‘growl’ at us is because of the feast and famine lifestyle of our ancestors. Your stomach is designed to fill up and expand to your eating cues. So, when there’s loads of fruit on the trees you can eat it all in case there won’t be any there tomorrow.
The problem today is our stomachs are expanded like this all the time! So, when it feels empty it takes more to fill. When we link empty stomach hunger to just a sensation instead of hunger, we will really start to see a change in how our bodies process food – for the better.
Human Hunger 6: Nutritional Hunger – The Most Important One!
The message here is to eat natural, whole foods. Your health is about getting enough of the foods your body needs, so pay attention to your nutritional intake. If you eat all the good stuff like fruits, vegetables and meats and limit processed foods your hunger needs will be met. It will then help when all the other hungers kick in.
You will change your relationship with foods forever when you realise how to eat healthily – and the difference it makes to your body, energy and mood.
Time to reset your relationship with food?
So those are the six human hungers. They form the core of our healthy meal options here at Find Your Calm. And we wanted to make it as simple as possible for you to make choices to support rather than hinder your nutritional intake. We offer a wide range of healthy meal options that you can plan in your online planner daily – ideas for breakfasts, lunches, evening meals and snacks are all included.
We know that making wise choices every day is what’s needed to develop a healthy relationship with food. There isn’t a short-term fix or magic pill to make you fitter or happier. It’s about taking small steps consistently. It’s about changing your relationship with both your food and yourself for life.
Which is why we offer annual memberships for only £36, as well as monthly subscriptions for just £4. By joining us you don’t just gain access to our healthy recipes. You also gain access to workouts, guided mediations, your own interactive online personal planner, regular support from us and so much more…
If you’re ready to start a new relationship with yourself, come and join us today!