By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

With the eating clean lifestyle, you have to figure out what real hunger feels like. Hunger is one of life’s biological drives. You have to eat to stay alive, and your body tells you when you need food. But in this modern world, images of food — reminders of everything from chocolate doughnuts to french fries — constantly bombard you. After all, Madison Avenue’s efforts to make you crave different kinds of food have been very successful over the years!

You can separate hunger into two basic categories. One is the normal hunger that comes when your body needs food to repair and maintain itself. The other is the hunger that occurs when you respond to external cues, such as a picture of food, or internal cues, such as stress or sadness. Within these two hunger categories, you experience several different types of hunger, including

  • True physiological hunger: A type of hunger caused by a drop in blood sugar, changes in hormone levels, and an empty stomach and intestine. The brain decodes these signals and sends messages to the rest of your body, making your stomach growl and ache and sometimes causing a headache or feeling of weakness. You must recognize these hunger signals to keep your body properly fueled and healthy.
  • Psychological hunger: A type of hunger triggered by thoughts and emotions, like worry, anxiety, or anger, or by the sight or smell of food. Eating junk food, binge eating, and eating out of habit rather than a physical need for nourishment feed this type of hunger.
  • Appetite: An interest in or craving for food. Appetite is linked to the physical need for food, but it can override the body’s signals that you have eaten enough and can spur you on to eat more than you need — sometimes much more.