Being thirsty and being hungry: the differences


It might seem impossible, and be associated with two completely different sensations, but in reality It is very common for people to confuse thirst with hunger. However, it is important to know the difference between being thirsty or hungry, and to be able to identify the signs that suggest the need to drink or eat. Especially in the case of a diet aimed at weight loss: in this case, by confusing the need to introduce water or drinks rather than food, there is a risk of consuming more calories than necessary, which makes it more difficult, for example, to achieve the objectives of weight loss.

Thirsty or hungry?

The same part of the brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals, which may actually be conflicting. Generally speaking, you should consume food at more or less regular intervals of time, eating every three or four hours: if less time has passed, the need to eat could objectively arise. Signs of hunger include several signs, such as: feeling weak, irritable or moody, having a classic rumbling stomach, nausea, headache. True hunger comes gradually, not suddenly.

In case you feel really hungry, any food will be able to satisfy this deficiency/need. Likewise, a sudden feeling of hunger that occurs after recently eating food is more likely to be identified as a craving, a gluttony attack, rather than true hunger. To avoid falling into the temptation of grabbing the first snack from the pantry, it could be useful to put into practice a simple measure such as having fun, going out for a walk, reading a book or spending time on a manual activity that can distract you.

When you feel the classic sensation of thirst, however, there could be dehydration. Some symptoms you may experience include dry eyes, headache, sluggishness, nausea, dizziness, dry skin and constipation. The color of the urine, then, could indicate the real need to introduce liquids: in general, when the urine is dark yellow in color (similar to tea) and salivation is reduced, leaving the mouth dry, it is necessary to reintroduce liquids. Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day, even if you're not thirsty, reduces your risk of becoming dehydrated.

Hunger Pangs or Sense of Hunger?

Hunger pangs, i.e. that sensation of burning and pain in the walls of the stomach which is appeased by introducing food, should not be confused with the real feeling of hunger. The immediate relief that is felt when food is introduced is a physiological mechanism: the food fills the stomach, and its walls do not rub, generating abdominal pain. Hunger attacks are, therefore, a false sensation of hunger, which actually manifests itself when there is a real need for nutrients, accompanied by a desire to eat certain foods.

Hunger attacks can result from:

  • poor food management and meal allocation;
  • stress and anxiety
  • sleep disorders
  • poor quality of food (junk food)
  • having consumed excessively large meals for a long time which have dilated the stomach, increasing its capacity
  • excessively restrictive diet and consumption of small quantities of food

Symptoms when you are thirsty

The symptoms of dehydration are closely related to those of hunger and can “confuse” your body into thinking that you are hungry, and therefore need to introduce food to increase your energy level. Nausea, tiredness, exhaustion can be signs of dehydration, not hunger. When you are thirsty, your mouth becomes dry, a symptom that can be temporarily calmed by eating. To avoid needlessly consuming calories, just drink a glass of water and check if the urge to eat has subsided.

In addition to flushing toxins from the kidneys, water performs many other functions in our bodies, including diluting minerals, regulating body temperature and keeping our skin hydrated.

Symptoms of moderate dehydration:

When do you feel really thirsty? By the time you lose 1% to 2% of your body fluids. Often, however, being thirsty is confused with being hungry, ending up with the effects of dehydration, which are burdensome for everyday actions, from work to sport.

Here's what happens if you drink sparkling water all the time.

Why you are hungrier in the evening and what this means.

Did you know that with diabetes…

Diabetic subjects or those at high risk of diabetes are thirstier than subjects whose glycemic values ​​appear normal and balanced. This occurs because hyperglycemia, a condition for which the body needs to dilute the glucose present in the blood to prevent its high concentration from damaging the cells, triggers the urgent and constant need to introduce liquids, precisely to fluidize the substances sugary.

When you drink very sugary drinks, fruit juices or carbonated soft drinks with high glucose content, thirst generally increases.


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