How do I know I am hungry?

We often eat when we're not hungry. One reason may be that many of us can't recognize when our bodies actually need food and when we don't.

The sensation of hunger is instinctual. For many people the first twinge of hunger sends them searching for food, often before they need to eat. Feeling a little hungry at the start of a meal is good, but knowing when you could wait longer is also important.

Eating every time you feel hungry can result in overeating. If you struggle with this, ask yourself these questions before your next meal:
  • Am I hungry? (If you're not sure, wait 20 minutes and ask again.)
  • When was the last time I ate? (If it's less than three hours, it may not be real hunger.)
  • Could a small snack tide me over until the next meal? (Have ready-to-eat fruit or vegetables on hand.)
If you can't recognize when you're hungry, make a schedule. Eat small meals every three to four hours until you learn what hunger feels like. If you overeat at one meal, get back on track at the next one.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.