Hunger-directed eating

Audio | Transcript | Infographic

Key points

  • False hunger often arises suddenly, is generally triggered by an emotion, a time of day, seeing and/or smelling food. It may be a highly specific craving. It may be accompanied by feelings of urgency, nervousness and indecision. Even if you eat, you will likely still feel false hunger.
  • Real hunger builds gradually. It may go through a phase of coming and going before becoming a steady sensation. You will have a heightened sense of taste and smell. There will be no indecision: your body knows you need to eat, and usually what you would like to eat.

Action steps

  • Rate your hunger throughout the day using the Hunger Scale.
  • Once you have this knowledge, try to use it as a guideline of when to eat.
  • Remember, this is not a “hunger-directed eating diet”. If you are used to the rule-based eating of diets, it can be tempting to make this another hardcore, inflexible rule. But that’s the diet mentality again, which we’ve seen does not work.


  • The Hunger Scale
  • Troubleshooting hunger

Have you struggled with false hunger? Have you been able to identify when you’re body was truly hungry this week? Let me know in the comments.