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  • Deanne Pandey

Can’t tell the difference between thirst and hunger? This will help!




It's common to confuse thirst for hunger, and if you're trying to lose weight it's important to know the difference. Confusing these two powerful cravings may cause you to consume more calories than you need and prevent your weight loss goals. The same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting both hunger and thirst signals which can often result in mixed messages. You should aim to eat every three to four hours, and if you feel hungry between meals, you may simply be thirsty. When true hunger strikes, many people are guilty of opening the fridge or pantry and immediately looking for ready-to-eat or pre-packaged foods for a quick fix. The next time you get a stomach pang, though, pause and ask yourself if you’re really hungry or could you just be thirsty?With symptoms that overlap, one can easily confuse hunger and thirst. Pay close attention to these feelings when you have them and think about what you’ve eaten or drank so far for the day. Here are a few helpful reminders to keep your cravings in check:

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink. Staying hydrated throughout the day helps curb cravings, keeps you alert, and helps digestion. Make sure you’re reaching your daily fluid allowance. Also be sure to monitor your fluid intake to avoid dehydration and its pesky symptoms, like nausea and headaches.

  • Listen to your body. Don’t be tempted to reach for whatever snack is in sight at the first sign of “hunger.” To figure out if that feeling is hunger or thirst, drink water—within your fluid allowance—and then wait 15 minutes. If you were truly hungry, you might still feel a stomach pang, whereas if you were just thirsty, you’ll feel satisfied.

  • Make sure you are not dehydrated- If your daily liquid intake begins with a few cups of coffee, by the time you feel thirsty you may already be dehydrated. Dehydration symptoms include dry eyes, headache, sluggishness, nausea, and dizziness. Your urine may also be a dark yellow and your mouth may feel dry. Drink water at regular intervals throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty, and you'll have less of a chance of becoming dehydrated.

  • Timing matters- How soon you’ll start feeling hunger depends in part on the size and composition of your previous meal or snack, but pay particular attention to possible hunger cues between two and five hours after eating.


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