7 Hunger Types – Exercises for Hunger Awareness

How can we change our habits and free ourselves from our habitual patterns with food whatever they may be? We can start by working on being more aware of what urges us to eat.  Practice asking yourself what kind of hunger you are experiencing next time you eat a meal or a snack.

Below I have listed the 7 Types of Hunger as discussed in the book, “Mindful Eating”.  In addition, I have listed some creative meditative exercises to respond to our different hunger types.


Once we are more aware of our feelings at the present moment, we can do a quick assessment before eating and eat appropriately, satisfying all parts of us that are hungry.  Practice these mindfulness exercises at home to help you identify your patterns with food, as well as tune into your body’s wisdom about what, when and how much to eat.  Discover what you are really hungry for.

1.  Eye Hunger – Example:  You are out to dinner with friends.  You are way too full, but tell yourself that it can’t hurt to check out the dessert tray.  Your eyes catch a deep molten chocolate lava cake with white chocolate shavings and brandied cherries.  Even though your stomach and cells say, “I am so full!”.  Your eyes say, “Mmm, I could eat that!”  The eyes win out.

Exercise –  At home practice creating a feast for the eyes.  Once a week or more, try and arrange food appealingly on your nicest plates, like you were serving a guest. Use a nice table cloth and cloth napkins. While you eat, allow your eyes to “feed” on the whole experience.  When we are observant and present, we feel more satisfied and connected with the food we are eating.

2.  Nose hunger – At the movies you are overcome by the aroma of hot buttered popcorn.  You are full from dinner but can’t resist the temptation to get a bucket.

Exercise – Before you begin eating, smell your food.  Try and detect as many components as possible.  Like you are experiencing the finest wine!  As you continue to eat, be aware of taste and how it changes as you breathe in or out.  When you are done, sit for a few minutes and notice how long you taste the food.  If you decided not to take another bite until you could no longer taste the food you had just swallowed, how long would that take?

3. Mouth hunger – You enjoy that first bite of pasta so much and the second bite even more.  You then start a conversation with your dinner companion about all the great new food carts in the city.  Suddenly, you look at your plate to realize it’s all gone and want more.

Exercise – Chewing is an important part of satisfying mouth hunger.  Before you eat, rate your mouth hunger from  0 – 10.  Eat a few bites of food, chewing each bite at least 15 -20 times.  If you normally don’t chew your food that much, be sure and give yourself a little more time.  Rate your hunger after doing so.  Notice what you find.

4. Stomach hunger –  You are working hard to meet a deadline.  You feel anxious and your stomach signals a distressing growl.  You grab a sugary snack and eat it mindlessly as you continue on.  You don’t even taste it.  Your stomach fills up with junk and your brain become foggy, your body more tense and triggers even more stomach symptoms.  You grab more food.

Exercise – When sitting down for a meal, take a few seconds to assess your stomach hunger from 0 -10.  After you have eaten half your food, stop eating and take a few seconds to assess stomach hunger once again.  At the meal’s end, assess stomach hunger.  To satisfy stomach hunger we need to feed the stomach just enough.  As we eat we need to periodically pause and check in with our stomachs to discern when it is becoming uncomfortably full.

5. Cellular hunger –  You’re a vegetarian, or non-red meat eater just recovering from surgery and lost a lot of blood as a result.  Emerging from the hospital, you have an overwhelming desire for red meat.  Your body says, “I need iron to build new red blood cells!  Forget spinach, I need meat!”  We can train ourselves to listen to what our body is saying.  When we turn our attention inward, we ask our body what it really needs.

Exercise – Halfway through your meal, stop and close your eyes and try feeling if you body is hungry at that moment.  If so, then, for what?  At the end of your meal, stop, close your eyes and ask again.

6. Mind hunger –  You are obsessive about how many calories you need, how much fat you eat, count grams of carbs and not sure if you are supposed to eat eggs or not. Now they say more fat is ok, coconut oil is healthy and you are royally confused.

Exercise – Before eating, pause and look at your food.  Listen inwardly to what the mind is saying about the food.  Notice that the mind is truly content when it becomes quiet, when the awareness function overrides the thinking function.

7.  Heart hunger –  You feel sad and lonely and reach for a cookie to sooth your heartache.  After you realize you’ve eaten an entire box of cookies, you feel awful and more lonely than before you decided to eat one cookie.

Exercise – In between meals, when you feel the urge to have a snack or drink, look at what your were feeling right before you had the urge.  If you have the snack or drink, does anything change?

The art of mindfulness can transform us and alleviate our struggles with food.  It can renew our sense of pleasure and satisfaction in eating.  Drawing from this, we can open up a whole new world of being more present in daily living.

For more info on Mindful Eating workshops or to schedule an appointment for Nutritional guidance to help with your individual food issues, call (604) 812-3663 or write me at

Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness is a unique combo of nutrition, fitness and cooking coaching all in one pretty package. Read more about Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

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