By Mer Temple, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor
Recognizing subtle hunger cues can be difficult. Although we often think of hunger as a growling stomach, many other signs can be an indicator of hunger. Sometimes it is hard to tell a hunger cue from something else, like tiredness or fatigue, or if wanting to eat is coming from boredom, stress, or an emotion. Here are some tips for detecting and responding to more subtle hunger cues.
1. Empty stomach/growling stomach: feeling as though your stomach is empty or hearing your stomach growl is one of the more obvious hunger cues that shows up when we are hungry and need to consume food!
2. Headache: a headache is often a less obvious sign that we need food. It can be challenging to tell if the headache is coming from hunger or something else, but often it will occur when you have not eaten for a while. When you get a headache and can’t identify where it comes from, try eating a snack or a meal and see if this makes a difference!
3. Low energy/fatigue: fatigue and tiredness are other less obvious hunger cues. These can occur when the body has fewer calories than needed so begins to feel weak and tired.
4. Shakiness: Shakiness can be an indicator that your body needs food, and it may be combined with nausea or feeling grumpy. When you begin feeling this way, consuming a snack or meal with easy to digest carbohydrates can be helpful to replenish your energy quickly. Including protein will help keep hunger at bay for longer.
To test out if any of the above signs could be your body’s way of showing you it needs more food, try having a snack when these symptoms show up and see if it causes the symptoms to go away. If eating food does cause these symptoms to go away, then most likely, this is one of your body’s hunger cues!