By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

Water is a basic element of life. In fact, human bodies are about 65 percent water. When your body needs more water, it lets you know through thirst cues. But did you know that people often mistake thirst for hunger?

If your stomach starts rumbling and you want to eat, get a drink of water. Not soda, not coffee or tea — just plain water. Then wait a few minutes. If you were thirsty, not hungry, your craving for food will abate. Drinking water to see whether you’re thirsty rather than hungry is especially important if you had something to eat less than three hours ago or if you haven’t had any water in the last hour.

Drinking lots of water helps your body do the following:

  • Keep your metabolism at the proper level
  • Decrease food cravings
  • Burn stored fat
  • Maintain muscle tone
  • Increase energy levels

In fact, drinking water or eating a clear soup before a meal is a great way to help fill up your stomach and control hunger pangs. Keeping your body properly hydrated can help you recognize the true feelings of hunger.