Am I Hungry or Just Thirsty? How to Tell the Difference

Hungry man looking inside refrigerator

Am I hungry, or am I just thirsty? Sometimes hunger and thirst can feel the same. In these moments, it’s easy to reach for a handful of chips or cookies. But before you reach for a snack, take a hard look to see if you are actually hungry and in need of food.

Your Body Needs Water

Your body needs water to work properly. Up to 75% of your body weight is made up of this crucial element. Water also has many functions. It maintains your body temperature, creates the right environment for your cells and tissues, helps remove toxins from your body, and makes up a major portion of your blood.

It’s important to consume enough fluid so you don’t become dehydrated. Dehydration happens when your body doesn’t have enough water to function normally. If you are mildly dehydrated (only 1-2% hydrated), you may have symptoms such as a headache, fatigue, lightheadedness and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms resemble true hunger. Typically, when they come, we grab the nearest muffin or sandwich without even thinking. Next time, take a moment to ask yourself whether it’s hunger you are truly experiencing.

How Much Fluid Do I Need?

Fluid needs vary from person to person. Older guidelines recommend 64 oz. of fluid every day. We now know that fluid recommendations are more individualized, but this is a good place to start! Actual fluid needs are based on sex, size and activity level. Remember, if you’re exercising or you’re out in the heat, you may need a little more. Sometimes, it can be hard to determine the exact amount you need each day. One way to assess your level of hydration is to check the color of your urine. When you are properly hydrated, your urine should appear clear.

There are many kids of fluid. Water is always the best choice, but other calorie-free fluids can be a good option as well. Sugar-free drinks like water mixes, sports drinks and seltzers can add variety to your beverages and prevent boredom. Be sure to minimize the amount of sugary drinks you consume. Soda and juice can pack a lot of unwanted calories.

How Can You Tell if You are Hungry or Thirsty?

The next time you feel yourself getting hungry, test yourself. Drink a large glass of water and wait about 15 minutes. See what happens. If you are still hungry after you drink the water, you may be truly hungry. If you are just thirsty, the feeling will go away. If you are still hungry or if it has been several hours since you last ate, you may be ready for a meal or snack.

Remember to drink fluids throughout the day. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. Stop by drinking fountains, carry a bottle of water with you, or set an alarm on your phone as a reminder. Once you get into a habit, drinking regularly will become much easier.

Drink up – here’s to your health!

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