What is the difference between hunger and cravings?

Hunger is caused by a physical need for food. Cravings are usually caused by emotional needs and emotional cravings can often lead to binging. Listening to our body will allow us to better understand what our body truly needs.

The good news is there are ways to know the difference between cravings and hunger.  Here are the most important ones:


Are often for comfort foods, i.e., fatty foods and sweets
Are usually caused by negative feelings such as sadness or anxiety
Usually leads to unhealthy eating that make us feel guilty later
Increase during pregnancy and a woman’s menstrual cycle
Can occur even if you just ate
Pass with time unlike hunger


Occurs when you have not eaten for some time
Causes a rumbling stomach, headache, or weakness
Gets worse with time and does not pass
Can be satisfied with healthy food
Is not specific to a singular food

Once we know the difference, we will be able to answer, “Am I really hungry?”