Thirst and Hunger: Is Your Brain Confused?

Glasses of wine, coffee, and water sit on a table with snacks in the background

Are you hungry or just thirsty? 

It seems like a “no brainer”. You’re hungry. Your body and mind are craving food.

Or are they? The answer isn’t that simple.

That’s because whether you’re hungry or thirsty, your brain gets the same message. So, it’s easily confused between thirst and hunger.

Knowing that makes it easy to understand why our brains get mixed signals, and why we often eat more than we need and drink less than we should.

Think about your morning routine. A lot of us choose to skip breakfast, and we can do that. But we should never skip having something to drink.

drinking glass overflowing with water from the kitchen facet

Even though all fluids contain some amount of water, you really need water the most. It’s going to wake up the digestive system and help you process food, get rid of waste and hydrate your brain, body tissues and cells. If you begin your day with just coffee or tea, by the time you feel thirsty you are probably already dehydrated.

Since water makes up more than 70% of our bodies, we can only survive for about a week without it. However, a normal person can go for almost a month without food, as long as they have water.


Confusing Thirst and Hunger?

If you’re feeling hungry, what can you do to find out if you need food or if you’re really just thirsty? Most health experts will say you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day; about 64 ounces or at least half of your body weight.

If your stomach’s growling and you aren’t sure if you’re confusing thirst with hunger, think about this:

  •         Drink 8 ounces of water.  Wait 15-20 minutes. That’s how long it takes for your brain to process what you need; if you still crave food, have a snack and a sip.
  •         Don’t wait to feel thirsty to get a drink. If you have the world’s smartest water bottle, it will remind you that it’s been too long since your previous water break. If you don’t have one yet, think about that last glass of water or water-based drink. If it’s been a few hours, it’s time for another shot of water.
  •         When you go to the bathroom, take a look before you flush. If the water bowl is almost clear, you’re good. If it’s dark yellow, that’s the signal that you need to drink more water.

So drink up! And if it’s also the right time to eat, by keeping track of what you drink, you’ll be less likely to eat too much and gain those unwanted pounds!

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