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Can you tell the difference between hunger and thirst when you are on a keto diet? Are you eating when you should only be drinking?
You may think that you perfectly know when you are hungry or thirsty. In reality, however, it is difficult to tell between hunger and thirst, especially when you are only mildly hungry or mildly thirsty.
Your body’s cues for hunger and thirst are subtler than you think, and there are times when you tend to ignore these cues altogether that you mistake thirst for hunger. As a result, you eat when you should only be drinking water!
It is actually relatively common to confuse thirst for hunger and eat when what you need is just a glass of water. But if you are trying to lose weight, it is important for you to know how to tell the difference between hunger and thirst.
Why? Because you might be consuming more calories than you need, making your weight loss journey harder for you!
Why Do These Feel the Same?
You may be wondering why it is sometimes difficult to tell whether you are hungry or thirsty. Actually, this is because the same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals.
As your brain finds it hard to interpret the mixed signals, you mistake the symptoms of mild dehydration for hunger.
Much of the time, you also tend to not wait to actually feel hunger or thirst before eating or drinking. This is a trap you shouldn’t fall into!
When you don’t wait to feel hungry or thirsty before eating or drinking, chances are you eat or drink for the wrong reasons—you eat or drink because you are bored, because everyone else is eating or drinking, or because you think you might get hungry or thirsty soon.
It is too easy to disregard—or confuse—hunger and thirst with the constant availability of foods and drinks and social situations that encourage eating and drinking!
How to Know If You’re Hungry or Not
The sad fact about eating is that you do it in response to stimuli other than true hunger. No wonder, you look for food when you are emotional or bored. That’s when the troubles begin!
Since eating when you are not really hungry means loading up on unnecessary calories, it is important to distinguish hunger from thirst. But how do you know if you are really hungry?
Take note of the signs!
If you feel weak, light-headed, irritable or moody, or your stomach is rumbling or feeling empty, most likely, you are truly hungry. Unlike thirst, true hunger comes on gradually, not suddenly.
Although individual differences exist when it comes to hunger signs, these are what you will normally feel when hunger comes knocking on your internal door. You may even sense a lack of concentration and nausea when you don’t listen to your body telling you that it is already time for you to eat!
But that’s not all about it. Sometimes, it isn’t enough to just learn to distinguish hunger from thirst. You must also learn to tell if you are truly hungry or are simply craving.
So how do you tell between true hunger and a craving? Remember: If you are truly hungry, any food will satisfy you. But if you are just craving, only a specific food or type of food will do.
You can also distinguish true hunger from a craving through time intervals. Have you ever felt the need to eat even when it has just been an hour since you had your lunch?
You’re not hungry! You’re simply craving!
Remember: A sudden feeling of hunger that comes on even though you have just eaten recently is more likely to be a craving than true hunger. So if you feel like eating again after eating a full meal, think again!
If you think you are craving, find something else to do. Talk to a friend or take a walk! Distract yourself until the craving passes.
Do you sometimes use eating as a distraction? For instance, there’s a call you need to make but you don’t want to make that call, so you walk over to the fridge and start to graze.
Be aware! Eating that way is a bad habit you need to break!
Other Signs of Being Thirsty
Now let’s talk about thirst. Do you know that you are likely to not feel any sign at all when you are just mildly thirsty?
By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. And being dehydrated is different from just being slightly thirsty!
Some symptoms you may experience when you’re dehydrated include dry eyes, headache, sluggishness, nausea, dizziness, dry skin, and constipation. You may also notice that your urine has turned dark yellow, or your mouth already feels dry.
Once you get severely dehydrated, you may also have a headache and feel extremely fatigued. When you feel those signs, grab that bottle of water and start chugging now!
Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day helps prevent dehydration. Don’t think that you should only be drinking when you’re thirsty!
Even if you don’t feel any of the signs, drink! That way, you’ll have less of a chance of becoming dehydrated.
Test It for Yourself
If you still cannot tell whether that’s true hunger or just thirst you are feeling, test it out!
Whenever you think you may be hungry, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes. If this satisfies you, you were just thirsty. But if you still feel your stomach grumbling, you are probably hungry and need to eat.
If drinking a glass of water or eating a snack doesn’t seem to satisfy you, then you could just be experiencing a craving or emotional hunger, rather than true hunger.
Now, if you are eating and eating but still not feeling full, it’s highly likely that you are thirsty. Have some water, friend!
Do this now: Pay attention to when you start feeling hungry and write it down. Record the time of day, what you are doing, and how you are feeling.
Do this as soon as you first start to feel hungry. This is going to make you more aware of your eating patterns and habits!
Think about this, too: Are you eating out of boredom, because you’re used to eating at certain times, or are you treating yourself or using food to satisfy your emotional needs?
These are all very important things to learn about yourself as you work on having a great relationship with food and with yourself!
As you learn to pay attention to your body, you will be able to recognize and respond appropriately to your hunger signals. Hunger isn’t something to be feared! Embrace it and treat it as a valued communication with your body.
Listen to what your body tells you when you’re on keto and take the time to care for its needs. Those are two critical steps in learning to love yourself!