4 types of hunger

4 Types of Hunger in Intuitive Eating

Do you ever want to eat even though you’re not physically hungry? If you said yes, you’re not alone. It’s 100% normal to eat for reasons beyond physical hunger. In fact, there are 4 types of hunger in intuitive eating including physical hunger, taste hunger, emotional hunger, and practical hunger. Discover how to interpret and honor each type of hunger. 


4 types of hunger

4 Types of Hunger in Intuitive Eating


Physical hunger is the biological need to eat. It’s similar to the gaslight in a car. Just as the gas light turns on as a warning to stop and refuel, hunger turns on as a reminder to stop and eat. 

Signs of physical hunger include headache, lightheadedness, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and/or stomach pangs. To appease physical hunger…EAT!


Taste hunger is the craving for a specific food or flavor. It’s eating what sounds good. It can present by itself or in conjunction with physical hunger. By itself,  it could look like enjoying a slice of chocolate cake after a satisfying dinner because it hits the spot. In conjunction with physical hunger, it could look like ordering a sandwich off the lunch menu because your last meal was a few hours ago and it sounds delicious. 

To honor taste hunger, allow yourself to order or make what you truly want to eat. If you’re craving something more, even though you are physically full, it’s still okay to eat! 


Emotional hunger is the desire to eat to meet an emotional need. It’s often referred to as emotional eating. Eating for emotional reasons is not bad in itself. However, it can become troublesome if food is the only coping tool you have. 

Here are a few prompts to help you navigate emotional eating: 

emotional eating prompts



Practical hunger is planned hunger. It’s a smart way of saying, “I’m gonna eat now, even though I’m not that hungry because it’s my opportunity to eat.” Here are a few examples of practical hunger: 

  • Eating lunch at 11 am because you have meetings from 11:30 – 2:30 pm. 
  • Eating a snack at 4 pm because you won’t be home for dinner until 7 pm. 
  • Enjoying something light at 8 am because you’re meeting friends for brunch at 11 am and can’t wait that long to eat. 

Practical hunger helps prevent future discomfort. 

Everglow Nutrition’s Key Takeaways 

  • Each type of hunger is valid. 
  • Identifying what type of hunger you are experiencing helps you best meet your needs. 
  • Have a question? Drop your questions below in the comments. 

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