Physical vs Emotional Hunger

We are about 15 weeks in since the eruption of the coronavirus and I know that so many of my ladies in The Transform Society are feeling all the feels, and they’re using food to push down and push away their emotions. Emotional hunger is something you’re probably familiar with if you’ve been on the diet roller coaster, and today, I’ll be explaining how to identify it and what you can do to overcome it.

For most of us, we buffer when we don’t want to feel negative emotions. We use food and alcohol and a whole array of substances to feel temporarily better. Emotional eating happens without intention, and it’s only prolonging whatever negative emotion you might be feeling in that moment, with an extra layer of guilt and shame afterward, and love, you just don’t need that.

Tune in this week as I show you how to identify the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger, and I’ll be sharing a couple of tricks that I teach in The Transform Society that you can use in your own life. These solutions are all about coming back into your body and understanding what hunger feels like, and then from there, you’ll be able to pay closer attention because love, you are worth this work.

And here are this week’s transformational questions:

  1. What does physical hunger feel like in your body?
  2. What are the feelings you feel most often when you’re emotional eating?
  3. What does emotional hunger look like for you?

If you love this work and you want to go deeper, take my free mini-course. Click here for more information.

We are pushing the opening of The Transform Society to July. We were going to open in the middle of June, but I want to take some time because this is an updated course and I want the current ladies to be able to give me feedback on it so it’ll be ready for new ladies who want to join! We’ll also be putting on a virtual live event in July close to the opening, so make sure to keep an eye out for that.


What You’ll Discover:

  • The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. 
  • Why emotional hunger happens. 
  • How to know when you’re buffering. 
  • 2 tricks you can use to identify the difference between emotional and physical hunger. 


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 40.

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 loves. Welcome back to the show. Can you believe episode number 40? I’m so excited about it. It’s been an amazing, amazing journey with you ladies. So today we are going to talk about hunger and what is the difference between emotional and physical hunger.

But before we get into the show, I want to give a listener shout-out to Violet. She wrote, “You are teaching me so much. I did not realize there was a difference between journaling and reflection work. Thank you so much for doing the podcast. It is so nice to find someone that truly has been there, has the thoughts I have and the same feelings, a person that I can tell loves others enough to give herself and time to help others. I am so thankful for you.”

Violet, I am so thankful for you. It means so much to me that you are listening and loving this show. And again, thank you to all the ladies who have taken the time to leave a review. And if you like and love this show, then please leave a review. I would so appreciate it.

Ladies, we are in week 15 since the eruption of the coronavirus. Roughly around 15. I have been working home for 15 weeks. I almost can’t believe it. The time has gone so fast. I live in Arizona and honestly, we’re exploding with cases right now. For us, it has not turned the corner.

I keep hearing over and over again all my loves wanting 2020 to be over, wishing it away. I taught a time leadership class today and I teach that time is our most valuable commodity, that we cannot get more of it. We cannot physically buy another three hours a day.

And trust me love, if I could, I would have bought extra time. I surely would. I have wished time away many times. Wished a Monday away, wished a Wednesday away, wished that I was not feeling the way that I was, wishing my circumstances were different.

I find that through this time, I just have to continue to go inward. I continue to find the benefits, the good, the hope. I appreciate all that is around me. The people, the humans, my loves. I appreciate a FaceTime or a video chat. I sink a little deeper into my husband’s hugs.

I’m feeling all the feelings, good and bad. I’m being coached every week by my coach, I’m doing work on racism, I’m showing up for my ladies in the Transform Society. I’m practicing self-care every day. I’m spending time with my grandbabies; I’m turning off my social media feeds. I’m walking and watching the beautiful butterflies, just loving nature.

I share with you, my love, all the things I’m doing because every moment we have is a moment we get to create. We get to choose love. We can feel all of the negative emotion. We can move through this time and be present with it.

And I wish all of this for you. I’m not wishing this time away. I’m leaning into it. I’m learning and growing. For every moment is the only moment we have, which transitions me into our topic today. I know that so many ladies are feeling hungry, meaning they are feeling so many emotions that they want to push down, push away, and they’re using food to do it.

Emotional hunger happens when we don’t want to feel emotions. We want to buffer. For most of us, we use a substance to buffer like food, alcohol, drugs, Netflix, shopping. I mean, there’s an array of things we use.

Now, it becomes buffering when it has a negative consequence. So if I’m eating on my plan, stopping when I’m feeling satiated, that is not buffering. But if I’m eating until I’m stuffed, eating all the things off my plan, that can be buffering. The negative consequence is eating more than my body needs for fuel.

Netflix can be great, but if I’m binge-watching for 12 hours straight, not doing the things that I want or need to do, like let’s say work for business, then the negative consequence is that I’m not doing the things that serve me. Instead, I’m binging on TV. So the negative consequence is the binging and not getting stuff done.

Emotional eating, emotional hunger is mindless eating. It’s eating without intention. It’s trying to push down the feelings but what ends up happening is that they’re still there. And we’re eventually just prolonging the negative emotion.

We end up still feeling sad, frustrated, but now love, we are beating ourselves up on top of it all. Now physical hunger is a sensation in our bodies. It’s a signal that was built so we would not starve to death. It’s activated by a hormone called ghrelin.

Ghrelin signals our brain that we are hungry, but for most of us who’ve been on the diet rollercoaster, we do not know what actual physical hunger feels like. We just don’t know it. We have been so disconnected from our bodies that we don’t know the sensation of physical hunger.

So what to do, my loves? I go in depth on this for my Society ladies, but I wanted to give you a couple solutions that can help you today. One of the things I teach my ladies in the Transform Society is to first feel what physical hunger feels like in their body.

So many of them will extend the time that they eat breakfast so they can experience what it actually feels like in their body. So if they normally eat, let’s say, at 8am breakfast, they’ll extend it to nine or 10. And then they write all the ways the sensation of physical hunger feels like.

How does it show up in their bodies? This is all about coming back to our bodies, right? Going inward, understanding what a sensation like hunger actually feels like in our body.

Now emotional hunger is when we think we’re hungry, but we go into autopilot and start eating. The trick is to notice the thought that you’re having when you think you are hungry. And notice how you’re feeling.

What are your triggers? Are you stressed? Is it a certain time of the day? Are you tired? Do you feel lonely or sad? If you’re experiencing emotional hunger, sit with the negative emotion. Then write the thoughts that are causing your discomfort.

Writing and reflection is a great way to disrupt the thoughts that you’re having. It can help you to stop eating or maybe not even start eating when you’re not physically hungry.

Now, a really easy trick that I like to use is when I think I’m hungry, I just ask myself, would a chicken breast or a head of broccoli do? And if the only answer my brain serves up is no, you must eat the cupcake, then I know it’s emotional hunger. But if a chicken breast will do, then I know I’m physically hungry.

We can learn to identify if it’s physical or emotional hunger. This is just another tool that can help us get off the diet rollercoaster. When we try to push down emotion with food, it’s still there, love. The pain has not gone away. We then just pile on guilt, shame, and add in a verbal beatdown. Love, you are worth this work. You are worth paying attention to.

So, the transformational questions are what does physical hunger feel like in your body? Question number two, what are the feelings you feel most often when you’re emotional eating? And number three, what does emotional hunger look like for you? So good. Bye for now, loves.

If you love this work and want to go deeper, take my free course. You can learn more about it at bflycoaching.com/free-course. Bye for now, loves.

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 over to bflycoaching.com. That’s B – F – L – Y coaching dot com. See you next week!

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