7 Types of Hunger

7 Types of Hunger

I was recently listening to one of my fave wellness podcasts and one of the dieticians pointed out that, “No amount of snacks will satisfy a mealtime hunger.” A truth bomb so simply stated. And it got me thinking about how if we pause to really reflect on the type of hunger we’re experiencing at a certain moment, it may radically shift the food changes we make. This reflection is fully in alignment with a lesson included in my mindful eating certification course that explains the seven types of hunger. What are they? And how do we know which kind we’re having? 

In the book “Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food,” Dr. Jan Chozen-Bays explains how each hunger directly connects to different parts of our anatomy…the eyes, nose, mouth, stomach, cellular, mind and heart. 

The following physical and mental cues can help you better tap into the why behind hunger—or hangry feelings—when it sets in:  

  • Eye Hunger: The appearance of the food is appetizing, oftentimes due to color combinations, how it’s plated or looks on the packaging. 
  • Nose Hunger: Aromas lure you in while walking by a restaurant, strolling by the deli counter or socializing during a backyard barbeque. 
  • Mouth Hunger: This kicks in when texture tantalizes your palate. For example, if you really enjoy the sensation of biting into crunchy nibbles, it shouldn’t be surprising it can be challenging at times to only have a single serving of chips or pretzels.  
  • Stomach Hunger: The exact stimulant of feelings centered in our tummies can be tricky to decipher. Some hunger “pains” stem from nervousness or discomfort, rather than signifying it’s time to eat. 
  • Cellular Hunger: When our nutrient intake is imbalanced, we may overeat trying to compensate for a perceived lack of nourishment. When in reality, we need to adjust the macro (carbs, protein and fat) ratio of our meals instead of simply consuming more calories.  
  • Mind Hunger: Many of us have complex thoughts related to eating habits. Spending time reflecting on why we crave specific foods or are resistant to making certain changes can be the first step in breaking unhealthy patterns we learned growing up, in a previous relationship, etc. 
  • Heart Hunger: An internal surge of emotion can trigger binges or a period of severe restrictions. Both are equally unhealthy. So seeking solace via recreation we enjoy or by talking with family, friends and/or a mental health professional are positive alternatives to attempting to silence sadness, anger, frustration or disappointment with too much (or not enough) food. 

Can you recall having felt one of these hungers recently? I’m always happy to lend a listening ear in our comment “chats” every month. 

Have a wonderful rest of this Wednesday and week! 


46 thoughts on “7 Types of Hunger

  1. WOW!!! these are ALL so true. I walked into my PT appt yesterday as a man was bringing in two BIG bags delivery from a local restaurant. I thought NOPE not going to get in the elevator and smell that food! Or I’ll see a fast food bgr ad on tv at night and YIKES it looks sooooo yummy and I know it’s NOT! So many triggers we have to deal with on this journey! I’ve printed this out to use as a program at chapter. Thanks for another great Wellness Wednesday!

    1. You’re very welcome, Ron! And hope your chapter as a whole finds this week’s post to be helpful too.

    2. One day at PT one therapist started talking about our local restaurant and darn if I didnt go there afterwards and get dinner. But only what I cannot personally make which was a chili rellano. Got it to go so no chips, just what I was craving. Will present this as a program at one of my tops meetings.

      1. I’m sure that’s an example many people can relate to, Pat.
        THANKS for sharing it here. I hope your group members find this post (and your story) useful too.

        1. I think sometimes it’s like a welcoming advertisement
          we’re thinking wow they give out so much food for the money this is a great place to come???

      2. Good for you Pat! Sometimes they just throw all that extra stuff in….. even tho we pay for it, we dont need it!

    3. I’m putting this information in my healthy eating “tool box”. I’ll share it as a meeting program – Thanks for the freat information

  2. Thank you for this reminder: not all hunger is for food. I know I am not alone in trying to “stuff” my emotions. But, I’m definately working on that. Thanks for your insight.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Debbie.
      I agree that it’s good to be reminded that people can be triggered by similar sights, sounds, smells etc.= Makes it easier at times to offer and/to ask for additional support when it’s needed.

  3. Enjoyed the “Seven Types of Hunger”. It definitely provided food for thought while moving forward in the journey!


    1. Appreciate this feedback, Barb. The journey is definitely about ‘progress’ so glad I could provide one more tool to help along the way.

  4. I recognize a lot of the 7 but the cellular hunger I believe is one I can relate to! I have to think of macros when I plan meals.

    1. Me too, Patricia!
      When my macro balance is off, I’ll want to snack more throughout the day. This is why I liked the “meal time hunger” quote so much that I included at the beginning of this post.

      1. I would love to see a macro/ food tracking app in TOPS. When we turn to food for comfort, we are disappointed & fat

    2. I just read this article and the cellular hunger is my issue as well. Nice to have a name to go with it.

  5. Enjoyed the seven kinds of hungers ! But just had to share a laugh with you ! I had just gotten off the phone , and I shared the 7 hungers with my husband, and he said “ oh, is the cellular hunger from talking on the phone for hours ?”
    But seriously, I will be using the info for a program ! Thank you !

    1. “LOL” in regard to what your husband said, Yvonne.
      And I hope a great discussion is now sparked by this post at your next meeting.

  6. Thank you for posting this, Rachel! It is a post that I will be thinking about for days.

    7 types?? Who knew? Well obviously not me. I would have said maybe three…physical hunger, emotional hunger, and trigger hunger. Now I realize that there are others . This will make a great program for my chapter. I keep telling members about the good information and support I find on the website.

    1. That’t the sort of feedback we LOVE to hear, Wanda.
      Feel free to circle back and post any additional insights you or other chapter members have after further reflection too.

  7. This article is great and will work well for a chapter meeting. I struggle most with Heart hunger, but have experienced all 7 and have instantly gotten derailed from my plan. Thanks for suggesting alternative actions to take.

    1. You’re very welcome, Pat! And I hope the chapter meeting provides more “food for thought” if you all end up discussing this week’s post at some point together too.

  8. Rachel, This is fascinating. I have worked on distinguishing between physical “hunger” and emotional “appetite,” but this list is even more nuanced and is definitely eye-opening. Thank you for the well-written post!

    1. That’s excellent feedback to receive, Robin…Happy to hear you found it to be quite educational.

  9. This will make a great chapter program.
    As for myself what helps me the most is to plan three healthy well balanced meals a day. No snacking because Iit awakens the desire for more food. Eating this way quiets head chatter as I call it!

    1. Kathy,
      It sounds like you’re aware of how, when and what you eat affects you physically and mentally, which is GREAT (and necessary to sustain positive changes long-term).

  10. Hi Rachel, thank you for the seven types of hunger. I looked on the TOPS website for your mindful eating certification course and couldn’t find it. Could you advise?

  11. I presented this article at our last chapter meeting. It was very well received and this week we will discuss what types of hunger each member noticed over the week and how they handles it.

    1. THANKS for sharing this feedback with us, Paula! Very pleased to hear how your chapter is incorporating this information into your meetings this month.

  12. I had a rough day emotionally so I bought a bag of chips and ate way too many. I decided to put the rest of them in my car so the wouldn’t be as easy to grab

    1. Deb,
      Sounds like you found a simple fix when you realized it would be too tempting if the open bag stayed in the house. Thanks for sharing here because it might help someone else.

  13. Looking for a meeting program. Read your article on mindfulness eating, which let me to this article on the 7 types of hunger. Thanks for the program that I will do at our meeting on May 3rd!!

  14. We just did this as our program tonight and it generated a lot of great conversation! Fantastic insight.

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