Gluttony, desire to eat or true hunger: how do you tell the difference?
When it comes to food, listening to your body is essential. But how to distinguish between gluttony and the desire to eat and real hunger? Answer with two dietitians and nutritionists.
The chocolate cake in front of you catches your eye, but there's a catch: you don't know if you're really hungry, or just want to eat, or if it's just an indulgence. To make a difference between these sensations, it is still necessary to understand the mechanisms!
Physiological mechanism vs psychological mechanism
“Hunger is a signal that the body sends to express the fact that the energy will soon run out because that provided by the last meal is already used up. This physiological mechanism naturally regulates food intake,” explains Ariane Grombach, Dietitian and Nutritionist.
The specialist determines that the desire to eat is a psychological need that can have very diverse causes, such as habit, boredom, fatigue, stress, the need for rest or comfort; and that gluttony is dictated neither by hunger nor by the desire to eat: it simply refers to the pursuit of pleasure.
Feeling hungry and full
Knowing these mechanisms is important, but the hardest thing is getting to know them as they arise. To achieve this, paying attention to the idiosyncrasies of each may be useful.
Hunger signals are physical signals, specifically “a gurgling feeling in the stomach or even some kind of cramping, general weakness, lack of energy, irritability or even a lack of focus,” says Ariane Grombach.
The feeling of hunger goes hand in hand with the feeling of satiety, which it is necessary to define: this is the contentment that a person feels after eating, when he is full. "This mechanism is activated as soon as the food is chewed. A message is then sent to the brain, telling the body that it can begin the process of digestion," explains Florence Foucault, Dietitian and Nutritionist.
Signs that we are full? Lack of desire or even tiredness from food, a tendency to eat less or even a desire to leave the table.
Fighting your cravings is not the answer
Ariane Grombach adds, "The cues of wanting to eat specifically conflict with the cues of hunger." If you are about to eat without feeling a gurgling in your stomach, feeling the air in your stomach or a lack of energy, it is probably a craving or a gluttony, not a hunger in the strict sense of the word!
Should we fight these cravings? "Not necessarily, because combat calls for will, it requires mental energy and is not always tenable in the medium term," emphasizes Ariane Grombach.
The specialist explains that the goal is to identify food cravings, and allow oneself to respond to them without guilt by appreciating what one is eating and understanding what the need or emotional mechanism resonates, before waiting for hunger to return.
“This way, we will be able to gradually respond to certain needs other than eating, but also to accommodate our feelings,” she explains.
Preserve the concept of pleasure
If these cravings are too great, this could be a sign that you are not eating enough at main meals or that you have a satiety problem.
“Restructuring your diet or turning to treatments that work on mindfulness can be solutions. There are also tips if these cravings are regular or frequent, such as drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea or still eating an apple,” suggests Florence Foucault.
Don't panic: cracking up from time to time isn't all that dramatic. It is important to keep the idea of fun!