Do you find yourself going off the rails at night and overeating?

This is probably just emotional hunger or habit hunger. We have been so disconnected from our body for so long, we don’t even know what hunger feels like in our body.  We have built this wall of weight around ourselves. We think we are hungry, and we don’t realize we are full until we are full and overstuffed – like Thanksgiving stuffed.

Physical is the important hunger. It is when we are truly hungry, when our hormones tell us we are hungry. Ask yourself if a chicken breast would do, and if you can say yes, then you are physically hungry.  If the answer is no, I want the chocolate chip cookie, then it is probably emotional hunger.

Emotional hunger is when we are pushing our feelings down with food. We tie events to food. Nighttime, weekends, celebrations.  If I get upset with my husband, Paul, and I find myself in the pantry, that is just emotional hunger.

You can feel your feelings without acting on them.

Habit hunger are those habits we have tied to food – every day at 2 p.m. we eat a candy bar, that is just a habit. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry, and we get to decide which habit hungers we want to keep.  Habits are just things we created neural pathways for in our brain that we have done over and over again.

Join me in this episode as we dive deep in the differences between physical, emotion, and habit hunger.  

 In today’s episode, you will discover:

  • How to tell if your hunger is physical, emotional or habit
  • Life is 50/50
  • You get to decide which hunger habits you want to keep

Transformational questions:

  1. How does “habit” hunger show up?
  2. What habits do you want to continue?
  3. How can you allow yourself to feel a feeling without acting on it?

Do you want to learn more about my tools – take my free course. You can go to to take it and learn the fundamentals of what I teach, tools that can help you start to lose weight for the last time.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Weight Loss for Successful Women podcast with Shannan Christiansen, episode number 93. Welcome to Weight Loss for Successful Women, a podcast for women who are ready to break the diet cycle and end their struggle with weight for good. Here’s your host, fortune 100 executive, and certified life coach Shannan Christiansen.

Hello love. So happy to be back with you. Today, I am going to talk about hunger, and I’ve talked about this one other time, well I talk about it probably here and there and everywhere. But I talked about it back in a previous episode about hunger. But today I’m adding in the third type of hunger. Ooh, it’s so good. So I’m gonna do a recap, but you won’t want to miss this episode, because there is a third type of hunger, and I tell you, I think it’s maybe a, one of the ones that show up most often.

So my love, if you are loving this show, please rate and review the show. Also make sure you subscribe so I’m in your list every Wednesday morning. So I’m getting so excited. Ah, I can’t even stand it. We have an upcoming event in Transform. Unstoppable Live, and it’s August 6th and7th. It’s a two day event. This is my first two day event actually. Mostly I’ve always done one day, but this is a two day event. And this of course is a member only event. And we are sending VIP boxes with all kinds of amazing swag for the ladies. And I just can’t wait. The items keep coming in the mail. I can’t wait.

Every time I get a tracking number, I’m like, oh, I want to see what it is, but oh, we have so much fun for these ladies. The swag is beautiful. Now this event is virtual and in person. I know, it’s the first, I had an in-person event in Dallas in 2019. And of course in 2020, I didn’t have any in-person events. And so this is our first one post COVID. And so I’m so excited and we are like five weeks away. I just cannot wait, one to hug the ladies. But even my ladies who are virtual, I am going to watch them change their life. I just cannot wait. We have so much fun, amazing teaching, coaching. I mean, it’s going to be a transformational event and I just cannot wait for it.

And so my love, I cannot wait. I know I get so excited about this stuff. I’m like, I’m almost like a little bit of a little kid, a little bit like how I, I think of, you know, Jacksy, my a four year old daughter, she gets so excited or Wyatt, yeah, like it’s so excited. I can’t stand it.

So my love, let’s talk about hunger, and you know, oh my loves, I was so, I don’t know if you feel this way, but I was so disconnected from my body for so long. I really didn’t know what hunger felt like in my body. You know, I didn’t like my body and I wasn’t in tune to all of the hormones and the triggers and the sensations within my body.

It’s almost like I had built this wall of weight around myself, and, you know, I felt hungry, I thought I was hungry most of the time. And you know, I didn’t feel the feeling of full until it was mostly too late, when I was stuffed. When I was, you know, that Thanksgiving stuffed, I can’t tell you my loves how many times I had just crazy stomach aches because I went past the feeling of full because I was so out of tune with my body.

And you know, today I’m going to talk about three different types of hunger. And so there is emotional hunger. Oh loves, for most ladies who carry extra weight, it’s a huge trigger. And then of course we have physical hunger, right? I mean, it’s important. Our body is built to tell us when we’re hungry so we can survive. It’s a very important hormone that we have in our body that does tell us when we’re hungry, we have ghrelin and leptin, and it tells us when we’re hungry and when we’re full. And then the third one that when I talk about is habit hunger. Ooh, I know. I can’t wait.

So let’s talk about physical hunger. So my love, we need to eat. We need energy and we need nourishment, and our bodies have a hormone called ghrelin and it tells us when we’re hungry. And it’s a very important thing, physical hunger, you know, as I have learned what it feels like in my body, I think each of our bodies are a little bit different. So this is where you have to become the scientist of your own body.

But really for me, physical hunger, I can almost feel like a flutter in my stomach. If I wait too long, I might feel a little bit light-headed and I can start to feel a little bit of low energy. And so it’s a cue that, you know, I’m physically hungry, and a question I always like to ask myself to decipher, is it physical hunger or emotional hunger is would a chicken breasts do right now? Right? Would a good, you know, bunch of veggies, does that sound good? And if I’m like, yes, and I, I kinda know it’s physical hunger. If you know, my brain is like, no, just the chocolate chip cookie, just the chocolate chip cookie will do, that is that is what you need right now.

Then I kind of know it’s emotional or habit hunger. So physical hunger is our body’s, you know, reaction. It’s a sensation. It’s almost like a warning light, right? If you think of a gauge on a car that you need more fuel, right? It’s kind of like our gas light goes off in our car when we need more fuel. And that is what physical hunger is.

Now, emotional hunger, emotional hunger, my loves. There’s a couple different things with emotional hunger. The first is, you know, we have learned how to push our feelings down with food so we don’t want to feel a feeling. We don’t want to feel upset. We don’t want to feel stressed. We don’t want to feel tired. We don’t want to feel boredom. And so we just push it down with a bag of chips or a cupcake, and we just push it down, push it down. And emotional hunger comes from us, not wanting to experience negative emotion. And so, you know, life my love, I believe is this kind of 50 50 balance. And I think we have days that, of course, that are 70 30 or 30 70, but in the end, it all kind of balances to 50 50.

And so negative emotion, boredom, pain, you know, frustration, anger, you know, all of those emotions are just part of it and we want to escape it. We don’t want to feel it. And so we want this dopamine hit, right? There’s a lot of science, right? Our bodies are science. And so there’s a lot of science in there where our body wants a dopamine hit, and so wants to feel better. And so we get a dopamine hit, especially from highly processed foods, sugar flour. And so, because we get that dopamine hit, and again, we get it right before we eat it.

You know, we crave those things. It feels urgent, right? It feels like, oh, I need to eat this. And so, emotional hunger is, you know, it’s just because we don’t want to feel it. We don’t want to feel all the things. And, you know, I remember always growing up thinking that I wanted to feel happy, I just needed to feel happy. And as I’ve gone along in this journey, and what I teach my ladies in Transform, and what I’ve witnessed with them actually, is that the purpose of our lives is really to feel all of it, to feel all the things, good and bad, and still allow ourselves to sit in that emotion. Without thinking we need to change it, without thinking that it needs to be different.

And so what I can tell you, because this is, you know, this is one of the things I think for even my clients, it takes a lot of practice, is allowing ourselves to experience a negative emotion without acting on it. See, that’s the difference. Before when I felt stressed or bored or, you know, I don’t know, frustrated, or, you know, I’d, you know, get in a tiff with Paul and then I’d be standing in the pantry, right. Or I’d have a stressful day at work, or I would be bored. Right. I would, you know, then go and eat. I’d fill my body, push down those feelings. Now I can have those same emotions. Right.

My life is still 50 50, my loves. And I just don’t act on it. I don’t have to, even though, you know, my body is like go in the pantry, I just know that I can sit and I can process the feeling. And so if you’re in Transform, we do a lot of work around this, and there are several videos and worksheets and Facebook lives and coaching calls. You know, we do a lot of work around this. But if you’re not in Transform, one of the ways that you can feel a feeling is just start to identify what that feeling feels like in your body.

So you can just, you know, for example, anxiety, right? In my body, my heart races, my stomach kind of hurts. My neck feels tight. My shoulders feel tight. And so how to start to process emotion is just start to, you know, in your brain start to think about, okay, what does this, ask yourself this question, what does, what do I feel like in my body? And then you’re going to go down into your body and you’re just going to start, you know, identifying it. I think too, I know some of my Transform ladies, even myself, I like to put a color, like, what does, if this were a color, what would it feel like? So this is just the, again, beginning of how to start to feel emotion.

Now there’s another side to emotional hunger. And it is, you know, we also eat when we feel joy and when we feel happy, and you know this right, we have this trigger that I’m feeling so good right now. I want it to keep going. And so we then eat too, and we, right. And so there’s a kind of both sides of the coin and just really experiencing emotions, whether it’s positive or negative without feeling that you need to eat.

And I tell you my loves, this just takes practice. And I know it’s possible because I tell you, I, for 38 years had weight problems, and I wanted, I was all the weights. I, you know, I would say, I mean, I was, I would go from like 182 to 250 in nine months. I mean, I, I was all over the place. I mean this in all the ways. And so I say this because I’ve now maintained my weight, and I’ve learned how to feel my emotions without acting on them. So I know if I can do it, that it’s possible for you. I really do, because I thought that this was going to be my struggle for the rest of my life. I really did. And now I can feel emotions and come into awareness and not act on them.

Okay. So the third type of hunger is habit hunger. And, oh, my loves, this is where you have a habit and you either eat at certain times, or, you know, certain events, celebrations, it’s just a habit. It could also be situational. So you’re driving down this certain street or you’re going to this certain part of your town. And every time you go there, oh, you know, Swig or, Swig is a cookie shop, a drink and soda shop in Utah here in Arizona. Right. And so you see that and you’re like, oh, I’ve got to have it. Right.

So it could be things like, I think the most common is night eating, right? So every night you want to relax, you’re watching your favorite show and you’re with, you know, your partner or maybe you’re by yourself and you’re feeling a little loneliness. And so you want that nighttime bowl of ice cream, that nighttime bowl of chips or popcorn, or, you know, nuts, whatever it is.

But you just start this kind of habit where every night you’re like, oh, time for ice cream, time for, you know, whatever it is. And it’s just a habit. It has nothing to do whether you physically need it for energy or nourishment. It’s just habit. I think about too, we tie this, right. I mean, this is where we tie events to food.

You know, like Friday night, oh, it’s Friday night, we’ve got to go out to eat or we’ve got to, you know, eat pizza or whatever it is. And again my love, you can, but what I want you to decide is, do you want this? Is this serving you? Is this serving all your goals? And so you get to decide, and it just really starts, you know, the first part of the cheat code is just awareness. Coming into awareness. For me, another big trigger was, you know, I worked, you know, corporate and at two o’clock on my work days, I had a bunch of meetings all day, I’m sure some stress in there, and it became a habit that every day at two o’clock I wanted to go, we had a pantry, and I wanted to go into the pantry and get, you know, a Snickers bar or a bag of chips or whatever it was. And it just was a habit.

I didn’t check in with myself to see if I was actually hungry. I just had this habit. And so, really just becoming aware of what habits. Now, this also can be things like celebrations, it could be every time I get with my family, I’ve got to eat all the things, right. I mean, there’s lots of different habits. And so habit hunger, I think the more that I researched this, the more that I even test this on myself and with my clients in Transform, habit hunger, again, I think is just as powerful as emotional hunger, because we get into these habits of wanting to overeat. And so one of the things that I’ve done for myself is one, become aware. What is my habit hunger? How was it showing up? And then two, deciding which habit hungers I wanted to keep, right? Like for example, in birthday celebrations, I always will put a piece of cake on my plan.

And then I check in with myself, am I hungry for it? Or, and there are times where I’m like, oh, I’m not really that hungry right now, and I don’t eat it. And then there are times where I’m like, yeah, I want some of it, and I eat it. Right. So again, just deciding which habits you want. And one of the things I always try to do is not eat the same things every day. And what I mean by that is, so my husband and I we’ve been lately, yogurt used to not feel really good, but I found this yogurt and it’s just, I don’t know, it feels good in my body. And it has a ton of protein in it.

And so I really am enjoying it and we put a little granola in it. And so my husband and I will have it a couple times a week. Now, what I had to be really careful was I had, right. My body was like, Ooh, every night let’s have this, let’s have this, you know, our yogurt treat. But again, my loves, I don’t want the habit of that. So, you know, if we’re hungry for it or are we, I have had a day where I haven’t had a lot of protein, I will have it. And I don’t just have it at night. Again, this is another way to kind of get you out of the habit.

So again, you know, my yogurt I’ll use that as an example, you know, I won’t just eat it at night. Sometimes I’ll eat it at lunch. Sometimes I’ll eat it and it’ll be our dinner. And so just again, try, cause remember, habits are things that we’ve created neural pathways for in our brain, and we’ve done it over and over again. So any way that you can disrupt that and not create a new habit. Ooh, it’s so good. Okay.

So three types of hunger, physical, that’s the important one. This is our right, because we want to be energized. We want to nourish our bodies. The second one is emotional, and it’s when we don’t want to feel a feeling, whether it’s joy and happiness, or sadness and anger. And so with emotional hunger, it’s just checking in with ourselves, feeling the feeling, allowing the feeling without acting. And then third is habit hunger. And again, this is, you know, there’s lots of habits that we’ve created. It’s just deciding which habits you want to continue and which ones you want to disrupt.

Oh, so good my loves, I love these three different. Now, if you’re in Transform my loves, we have lots of trainings on this and this was part of our setting yourself up for success workshops. So if you miss the workshop, for sure, watch the replay. Again, this is for my transform ladies. And then of course, you know, you can always listen to the Facebook lives too. I talk about it in there too.

So my loves, the transformational questions are one, how does habit hunger show up? And two, what habits do you want to continue? And three, how can you allow yourself to feel a feeling without acting on it? So good my loves.

And if you want to learn more about my tools, take my free course, Transform is currently closed and we are not going to open until September. So you can always go to to take my free course and learn the fundamentals of what I teach, tools that can help you start to lose weight for the very last time. So good my love. Bye for now.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Weight Loss for Successful Women. If you love what you heard today and want to learn more, come on over to See you next week.


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