Stress Less: The 5 Types of Hunger

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Before we wrap up this discussion on hunger and cravings… we need to chat about a few other types of hunger that also influence what we eat…

Actually 5 types of hunger to be exact—Yes, 5. 


Hunger is NOT just limited to an emptiness you feel in your stomach or physical hunger…Hunger also includes hungers we have in our heart and in our head…


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The 5 Types of Hunger include:



The Hunger to Feel Worthall humans want to feel noticed, important and good enough, like you matter—this is why we like to see our number of “Likes” on social media


The Hunger for Control—humans want and hunger for a sense of security, peace of mind, or control, like a consistent routine or schedule…the need for independence, or doing things our way is also in here—sort of like when you were 2 years old and learned the word “no.”


The Hunger for Purposea reason for living that fires you up and also makes you feel like you’re making a difference…this is why the Tom’s Shoe model works so well—buy a pair of shoes for you…give one to someone else… 


Purpose also entails the hunger or need for growth in our lives– we also want to feel like we are going places—learning, evolving, or working towards something…this is why at least 1 to 2 hours of the average employee’s work day is spent looking for NEW jobs…or why, after earning your college degree, you thought about going back to school or doing a new certification…and why learning a new skill—like acting, photography or weight training is exciting…


The Hunger for ConnectionHumans are nutrients! Social isolation or feeling unwanted or left out kills the soul…did you ever not get invited to the birthday party? Total pit in your stomach.


The Hunger for Joywe like to feel comfortable and enjoy the good things—vacation, retirement, play, fun…all work leaves us tired. 


We also don’t like being bored or feeling like we are stuck in a rut… new starts and change, or simply variety in our schedule each week, is exciting—like starting a new school year…doing a spin class one day, pilates the next…or setting new goals…




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When any of these needs are unmet, it can explain why we may feel stress and anxiety, and turn to vices like diets or other habits and behaviors to fill the hunger. 


Our innate hunger for peace—is highlighted when we experience turbulence in an airplane—we hunger for control and safety…


The hunger for connection and worth is the reason why people spend hours on Instagram and get an endorphin rush when they see more “Likes”…


And our hunger for joy is why many people live for the weekends or vacations..


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These hungers can sometimes play out in food too:


If life feels chaotic, there’s nothing like eating the same things every single day or, the flip side, eating an entire batch of cookies for a sense of calm and control.


On the flip side, if life feels out of control, our need for certainty may lead to obsession over calories or a pint of Ben & Jerry—something we can control. 


If we are bored and needing variety in our job or relationship, we may seek that in a spicy Thai meal or pizza party…with ourselves…or struggle with making commitments of any sort. 


If life is uncomfortable—take a pandemic for example—no wonder you crave comfort foods like ice cream and pizza; or turn to a food list to find grounding. 


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Not sure what need(s) you have? No sweat. Many times your habits with food will tell you!


Restrictive eating is often an identity conflict for many—a lack of self worth. For others it’s a lack of love—restriction and self denial eases the pain. 


Binging can be a sign of overwhelm—lack of control or lack of connection—you feel stuffed and to release the overwhelm, the purge happens…or you feel lonely so you comfort yourself with food.  


On a simpler note: Chocolate cravings often signal of a need for love. 


Crunchy and salty food cravings can represent unexpressed anger or frustration perhaps in a relationship or out-of-control situation. 


Cling to your personal label as a Vegan or Keto adherent? You may be seeking identity or a sense of purpose in other areas. 


You get the picture.


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The reason why “healthy eating” or “controlling our cravings” doesn’t always work is because we are looking to diets, or other things, to meet our deepest unmet needs… 


 What hungers—if any—have you tried to meet with food, dieting or exercise? 


The next time you sit down to a meal or snack, before digging in, check in with yourself: What kind of hungry am I? 

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