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Differentiating between physical and emotional impulses to eat

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It can be difficult to differentiate between an emotional and a physical craving for food, especially if you lead a busy life style. The mind can often times confuse stimuli such as television commercials for food, thirst, loneliness, and boredom with the body's true hunger signals. Determining when you are truly hungry and not just looking to fill an empty emotional space or craving is something that many women struggle with, but can be approached head-on by following several steps:

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  • Drink a bottle or glass of water. Wait for about 10 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry drink a bit more. If the hunger persists the chances that your mind was confusing thirst with hunger can likely be ruled out. Staying hydrated in general should help you avoid feeling mentally 'fuzzy' and irritable.
  • Occupy yourself, especially if you have eaten recently and are still feeling hungry. Take a walk, go on a run, log some time on your Wii Fit, or go shopping. Eating out of sheer boredom is very common, and usually can be eradicated by taking your mind off of snacking.
  • Get together with friends. Go hiking, biking, or take a walk around town and catch up with someone you haven't seen in a while. Sometimes a combination of social loneliness and boredom can be confused with huger signals. Getting rid of social stagnation should lift the impulse to snack if you are simply looking for company.

Although everyone experiences hunger differently, it is also important to be able to determine when you are truly hungry based on what physical symptoms you are experiencing. Relying on what involuntary symptoms you are experiencing rather than what you mentally are processing should make the decision as to whether or not to eat more simple. According to WedMD there are several physical distinct symptoms of true hunger that you should notice when your body physically is in need of food, such as light headedness, stomach growling, crankiness and/or lethargy, and weakness.

Cutting down on emotional eating will overall benefit your body and mind, but this is not to say that you should criminalize yourself if you do end up noshing even when you aren't hungry. If you find yourself being orally fixated at any point in the day and simply need to munch on something, try low-sodium seaweed snacks, apples, celery, or homemade vegetable or fruit juice. These foods are low in calories but high in nutrients, so they are prime for snacking on in between meals.

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