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8 Types of Hunger

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


"Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach"

When you were younger and you piled more food on your plate and didn't eat it all, did your mother say to you, "Your eyes were bigger than your stomach"? If she did, you probably wondered what she meant.

Your mother was on to something because she was saying that you saw the food and you took the amount that was more than the amount that your stomach was capable of eating.

In essence, your parent was referring to two of several types of hunger that people experience.

  1. Eye hunger
  2. Stomach hunger

Full List of Hunger Types

Some experts identify from seven to 10 types of hunger. The types you choose to believe and live by depends on the list you use.

In her book Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, Jan Chozen Bays identifies seven types of hunger. She is one of the world’s leading experts on foods and hunger.

Bays writes about the seven types of hunger that most people can identify with. However, other authors use an entirely different approach to their lists.

Bays' List of Hunger Types

  1. Eye Hunger
  2. Nose Hunger
  3. Mouth Hunger
  4. Stomach Hunger
  5. Mind Hunger
  6. Cellular Hunger
  7. Heart Hunger

For some reason, Bays did not originally include ear hunger, but she added it later for good reasons. How many times have you heard pots and pans in the kitchen or someone opening a potato chip bag and your hunger increased?

Eye Hunger

No matter which list you use, eye hunger seems to be at the top of almost every list. That's because hunger is usually triggered by foods that we see. If we didn't see a certain food, we probably wouldn't think about eating it.

That's why people are told to clean out their cabinets and refrigerator when they go on a diet. If it is not in the house, they won't eat it.

Advertisers know this. That's why there are so many commercials about food on television. We see food that makes us hungry when we were not even thinking about eating.

Also, when we see others eating, it makes us want to eat. It can be what others are eating, foods that you see on the menu at restaurants, and even pictures of food and recipes you see online.

Nose Hunger

The smell of bacon cooking and the aroma of coffee brewing often make people want to consume what they smell. If they had not smelled the food and beverage, they probably would not have thought of wanting it.

Why do you think you buy popcorn in a movie theater? You smell it and you want it even though you might have had a big meal at home.

Mouth Hunger

Mouth hunger is the desire for food to give a person pleasure. This type of hunger is the hardest to satisfy. You might have heard people say, "I want something to eat, but I don't know what it is."

Even though people are full, this type of hunger will satisfy them if they could pinpoint what they want.

Stomach Hunger

This type of hunger is obvious when your stomach feels empty and you want to fill it with food. If you go too long without eating, your stomach will call out to you with a growl. It sends a message to your brain that your stomach needs food.

You can reduce stomach hunger by eating at a certain time. If the truth is told, many people eat when their stomach isn't empty. They eat based on the other types of hunger.


Mind or Mental Hunger

Mind or mental hunger is based on your thoughts. Admit it, you think about food a lot during the day when you are at work, in school, or even in church on Sundays.

You go through your day thinking about what you are going to have for lunch or for dinner when you get home.

Mind hunger exists when we talk ourselves into eating or not eating something.

Cellular Hunger

Cellular hunger is what the body is craving because there has been a lack of it. If you have not eaten enough protein, your body will let you know by being hungry.

When you are hungry, you just might grab anything to eat. However, it might not satisfy your hunger. Unless you give your body the daily recommended nutrients, you will still experience cellular hunger.


Heart Hunger

Heart hunger can also be called emotional hunger. That's because our emotions cause us to eat. We want to eat when we are depressed, sad, or even lonely. We eat to comfort ourselves. That's why some are known as "comfort foods."

The sad truth is that no food can completely satisfy heart hunger. The desire is to fill the hole in our heart and not in our stomach. Therefore, heart hunger is satisfied only when we get what's missing in our life. Most of the time, it is not food.


Ear Hunger

Hearing the sound of pots and pans in the kitchen in the morning is enough to make some people hop out of bed. That's because their hunger has been trigger by what they heard.

The sound of packets, bottles, and cans being opened can trigger ear hunger. Just hearing someone opening a bag of potato chips will make you want some.

Types of Hunger Might Overlap

Food is fuel, and we all need it to survive. However, we eat for more reasons than to keep us alive. Every time you eat food, it is not because you are hungry. You might be deprived of something else your body craves.

The next time you think you are hunger, ask yourself which hunger it might be. Know that the types of hunger can overlap. If you are sitting in a restaurant looking at the menu, surely you will see photos of food there. You will also see other people eating what they have ordered. Then you will want exactly what they are having.

You will also smell the food cooking which might help you make up your mind about what to order once you smell it.

Identify the hunger

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. As you get close to the food court in the mall, the aroma of food makes you hungry.
    • Eye hunger
    • Heart hunger
    • Nose hunger
    • Stomach
  2. When you get closer to the food court, you are thinking you should eat because you will be out most of the day.
    • Stomach hunger
    • Eye hunger
    • Heart hunger
    • Mind hunger
  3. When you arrive at the food court, you observe the beautifully made cupcakes.
    • Stomach hunger
    • Nose hunger
    • Heart hunger
    • Eye hunger
  4. You didn't eat breakfast, and you have been out shopping a long time when you hear your stomach growl.
    • Eye hunger
    • Nose hunger
    • Mouth hunger
    • Stomach hunger
  5. You haven't eaten protein all day and you are hungry. Which hungry do you have?
    • Eye hunger
    • Cellular hunger
    • Nose hunger
    • Mouth hunger
  6. You are craving something salty like potato chips. Nothing else will satisfy you.
    • Cellular hunger
    • Heart hunger
    • Mouth hunger
    • Nose hunger
  7. After a breakup or a major crisis, people eat. On TV, they eat ice cream or drink wine. Which hunger is it?
    • Mouth hunger
    • Stomach hunger
    • Cellular hunger
    • Heart hunger

Answer Key

  1. Nose hunger
  2. Mind hunger
  3. Eye hunger
  4. Stomach hunger
  5. Cellular hunger
  6. Mouth hunger
  7. Heart hunger


Hunger Types

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 Margaret Minnicks

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