What Are You Really Hungry For? July 12, 2011.

I am trying to lose a few pounds. It is no secret:  I exercise regularly but sometimes slip up with my eating habits. At times, I find myself eating for the sake of it:  I am bored, tired or upset. My worst offense comes during a good Baseball game. I can sit on my couch with a snack intending to only ‘eat a few.’ Three innings later I have finished my chips and I am still looking for more. Why do I eat when I am not hungry?

In order to answer this stomach-defying question, I turned to the pro. Brian Winsink, to be exact. Winsink’s book Mindless Eating discusses study after study attempting to pinpoint why we eat, when. I found myself guilty of some (if not most) of Winsink’s conclusions. Luckily, Winsink offers some helpful tips to help cure our bad habits. Here is one of his more generous guidelines:

“Do you want a Snickers bar or do your really want a hug? The authors of Think Thin, Be Thin off the following rules of thumb for whether you’re responding to physical hunger or feeding a deeper emotional need.


  • Builds gradually
  • Strikes below the neck (e.g., growling stomach)
  • Occurs several hours after a meal
  • Goes away when full
  • Eating leads to feeling of satisfaction


  • Develops suddenly
  • Above the neck (e.g., a “taste” for ice cream)
  • Unrelated to time
  • Persists despite fullness
  • Eating leads to guilt and shame” (Winsink, 153).

Use this simple guide to help you target WHY your are eating WHEN. By differentiating between physical hunger and emotional hunger, you can start making the decisions necessary to recognize what you are putting in your mouth. If we stopped each time we went to grab for a snack in the kitchen and honestly analyzed our motives we all may be a few pounds lighter.

Stay Strong and Healthy,

Peter Holmes

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