Mastering Hunger, Not Allowing It to Master you

Recognizing genuine body hunger and distinguishing it from false hunger (emotional or mental appetite) can be tough. 

  1. Real hunger builds gradually, and may go through an initial phase of coming and going before becoming a steady sensation.

  2. False hunger or a desire to eat may arise suddenly and doesn’t last for more than about 20 to 30 minutes. This is because it is generally triggered by an emotion, time of day, smelling or seeing and appetizing food or viewing an advertisement – not a genuine bodily need.


If you aren’t sure whether you’re feeling genuine body hunger or a false hunger, simply take a 20- to 30-minute wait-and-see period.

  1. Hunger isn't starvation. It may be helpful to remind yourself that hunger is not an emergency. Your body is well equipped to get through long periods of time without food – weeks
  2. Feeling the appropriate amount of hunger for each meal is your assurance that you’re eating just the right amount for fat loss.


Hunger has some different levels. We're looking for that range of hunger where you are not emotionally irritated by the feeling or irrational in your judgement of the amount of food to satisfy your hunger.

Listening to how your body feels while you eat. Understanding the level at which you need to eat in order to remain comfortably full, not overstuffed, and yet ‘feel’ hunger before it is time to eat again sounds easy but is much more difficult to do.

Give yourself a goal this week to feel hunger before you eat. You might do this at every meal but I know when I first worked on this skill. I worked at feeling hunger for 2 meals a day. That took effort. That effort has paid off. 

To Your Best Health,

Coach Nancy

About the author

Coach Nancy

Nancy Carlson is a Certified Professional Fitness Trainer with the National Exercise and Sports Trainer Association, a Level 1 Youth Conditioning Specialist with the International Youth Conditioning Association, and is a Level 2 Certified Precision Nutrition Master coach. Nancy was recognized in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 as the “Best of the Best” Fitness Trainer in Southern NH by the Hippo Press.

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