Key Difference – Hunger vs Craving
Hunger and craving are two feelings that indicate our need for food. Once you feel hunger or cravings for food, you’ll try to satisfy this need by eating. However, it is important to know that there is a distinct difference between hunger and craving. When you are hungry you’ll eat anything to satisfy the hunger, but you experience cravings for specific food, and these cravings cannot be satisfied by eating anything. This is the key difference between hunger and craving.
What is Hunger?
Hunger is a strong desire or need for food. Hunger can also refer to the feeling of weakness or discomfort caused by lack of food, along with the need to eat.
Hunger is a natural reaction – it is the body’s way of letting you know that it needs energy. Hunger is related to the body’s basic intent on survival; thus, hunger for food is built into our genes. Since hunger is a physical requirement, any type of food can satisfy your hunger. But it is always advisable to eat healthy and nourishing food when you are hungry. When you are extremely hungry, you’ll even eat food that you don’t normally like. Once your hunger has been satisfied, you’ll stop eating.
Hunger is a physical sensation and is related to contractions of the stomach muscles. These contractions, once they become severe, are known as hunger pangs. Some people also feel symptoms such as headaches and dizziness when they are hungry. These symptoms will also disappear when they eat.
What is Craving?
Craving is a powerful desire for food. You generally feel cravings for a specific type of food or drink. Craving is not the same as hunger since cravings do not indicate your body’s need for energy. You may feel cravings for a specific food like chocolate, just one hour after you have had a full meal. Therefore, cravings do not indicate a need for food and neither do they result in physical weakness or discomfort. Since cravings are not physiological sensations, you can control them by ignoring them. Ignoring them for about 20 minutes can make the cravings disappear.
However, cravings can be brought on by hormones, emotions, associations, and memories. For example, if you always buy chocolate chip cookies from a certain shop, passing that shop may create cravings for cookies. Pregnant women also experience cravings for certain types of food; these cravings are often attributed to nutrients that are required during pregnancy.
Chocolate and confectionaries made of chocolate are typically among the top foods people say they crave. Researchers have found out that cravings for certain types of food are connected to their ingredients. For example, chocolate contains the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, which has a significant function in regulating the body’s release of endorphins.
What is the Difference Between Hunger and Craving?
Type of Food:
Hunger: You’ll eat any type of food to satisfy your hunger.
Craving: You generally experience cravings for a specific food or drink.
Hunger: Satisfying your hunger is a physiological requirement.
Craving: Satisfying your cravings is not a physical requirement.
Hunger: Hunger indicates your body’s need for energy.
Craving: Cravings can be brought on by hormones, emotions, associations, and memories.
Need vs Want:
Hunger: Hunger has to be satisfied, it cannot be ignored.
Craving: Cravings can be ignored; it can make the craving go away.
Hunger: Hunger can create physical discomforts such as stomach cramps, headaches, and dizziness.
Craving: Cravings can create emotion distress, but not physical discomfort.