Feeding the Soul: Nourishing the Difference Between Emotional and Physical Hunger

Andrea Breaux
3 min readOct 8, 2023

Emotional and physical hunger is like junk food and a nutritious meal — one may taste better in the moment, but the other fuels your body for the future.

Ongoing research to better understand human’s relationship with food has identified a clear distinction between emotional and physical hunger as the driving forces behind how, when, and what we eat. Recognizing this difference is important, as it can lead to a healthier and more mindful approach to our eating habits. It’s fascinating how our emotions, such as stress or worry, can sometimes cause us to identify an unhealthy food as “comfort” food and develop a craving for it when we feel some kind of way.

“Ugh, my boss called me at 3:00 pm on Friday afternoon to tell me she needs a report on her desk by 8:00 am Monday. Where are the chips and diet soda?”

Emotional hunger is about impulsive urges and satisfying them immediately, while physical hunger is a gradual process that responds to our body’s need for nourishment. By recognizing and understanding these two types of hunger, you can make healthier choices and have a better relationship with food.

With food, the right feelings can create the right outcomes. Here are six feelings that can contribute to a positive relationship with food:

1. Gratitude: Cultivating a sense of gratitude for healthy food can enhance your eating experience. Appreciating the flavors, textures, and nourishment that fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and seeds provide can help you savor each bite and develop a deeper connection with what you consume.

2. Mindfulness: Being present and mindful while eating allows you to engage with your meals fully. Paying attention to food’s taste, smell, and texture can improve your enjoyment and satisfaction. Mindful eating also helps recognize when you are full, preventing overeating.

3. Joy: Approaching meals with joy and enthusiasm can make the experience more pleasurable. Finding joy in trying new recipes, exploring different cuisines, or sharing meals with loved ones can create positive associations with food.

4. Self-compassion: Practicing self-compassion involves being kind and understanding…

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Andrea Breaux

Andrea started Healthyhealingeats.com based on her goal to inspire a shift in consciousness that recognizes food-as-medicine as the core of good health.