Are You Hungry? Or Just Thirsty?


By: , – Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D., Family Circle
  :  32 comments   :  44,305 Views

Did you know a hunger cue is the same as a thirst cue? It’s true. And it’s another eye-opening tip I provided the Avagliano family.  Because the signal your body sends when it wants a tall glass of water can be mistaken for the sign it sends when you need a snack, you have to react wisely to save yourself hundreds of calories. Your best bet: have a drink first, wait to see if you’re satisfied and then eat if you are still hungry.
You can avoid cue-confusion by staying hydrated in general. How much water should you be drinking every day? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, the average adult loses about 10 cups of water daily. You’ll need to replenish at least this. If you are a smaller person, you may need less. If you’re a bigger person or you’re sweating a lot due to exercise or the weather then you’ll need more. 
That probably sounds like a lot. But consider this: You could survive without food for a month or so. When it comes to water, you probably couldn’t last longer than a week. Water is essential and is needed in almost every part of the body including the cells, tissues, and organs.

More from Family Circle:How much water do you drink in a day? Do you use the SparkPeople Water Tracker to keep track?

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    As another post noted, water is present in foods we eat, and I would expect our bodies can satisfy part of its water needs from other vegetables. So perhaps while drinking 10 cups of water is ideal, we don't need that much every day to stave off death from dehydration.

    I have some "water intolerance" too - it makes me queasy in the morning, even just to think about sometimes. I don't start my water intake till noontime. - 1/29/2014   7:06:54 PM
  • 31
    Interesting, I had never thought of this. - 12/26/2012   11:30:21 AM
  • 30
    I agree with the comment that when I drink water it tends to make me thirsty. Some days I drain a glass of water and immediately get up for another, and another, and another. Considering I drink my water by the pint glass, that's a LOT of water. I also have the issue, that when I drink water when I AM hungry, I get very light-headed and nauseous. And then my least favorite of all the "side-effects" of water that I get (besides urination frequency when I go hog wild) is that it gives me terrible gas. My husband actually laughs at me because I'm the only person he's ever me with a "water intolerance" that I feel sick when I drink it. - 11/16/2012   7:27:10 PM
  • 29
    If you lose 10 cups of water per day, but you only drink 5 cups of water per day... why aren't you dead? There appears to be some missing information here. - 8/19/2012   9:09:06 AM
  • JPEARL127
    I have found that drinking plenty of nice, cool water helps keep my snacking urges at bay, and whenever I find myself lurking in the pantry trying to find a salty or sweet snack, I first drink a nice big 12-ounce of water. Usually, by the time I've consumed the water, my "snack attack" is gone! - 8/17/2012   8:37:25 AM
  • 27
    I started seriously keeping track of my water in July. I've gotten at least 8 cups since then per day except for 2 days. One I missed it by 1 cup by falling asleep early and the other I had gotten sick. So I'm proud and I'm tracking and it's been a fast track goal for me that I have fallen short of. It's great to make goals and meet them. I drink a bottle of water with each meal (3 and 1 snack) and I tend to drink more during heavy cardio days. Water does a body good! Thank you! - 8/16/2012   9:24:00 PM
  • 26
    Water was one of my early fast breaks.
    I drank a glass of water every hour...with an alarm clock.
    It took a while...Ifelt bloated at first but now I can not imagine not sipping from my bottle throughout the day!!! - 8/15/2012   9:26:59 PM
  • 25
    Yep...I figured this one out a while back.

    The mystery that remains for me is: why is it that when I drink a lot of water, I always want more? Why is it that the more water I drink, the more water I want?

    No kidding! It is absolutely true for me! - 8/15/2012   5:50:17 PM
    Water distends the stomach decreasing hunger pains. I wouldn't say the signals are confused. Drinking water before eating means that your brain gets the "I'm full" signal faster. - 8/15/2012   3:37:38 PM
  • 23
    I never really noticed this until last night. I was at the gym, I had forgotten my water bottle at work and while on the treadmill..My stomach was groaning and I felt like I needed food...that feeling went away right after I drank from the water fountain. Since joining spark people..I've always drank 8-12 glasses of water!! It's good for you. - 8/15/2012   11:13:29 AM
    In March I started keeping track of my water intake. I am drinking 120+ oz per day. I recently learned that a headache is the first sign of dehydration. Drink your water and keep up the great work! - 8/15/2012   9:41:40 AM
  • 21
    As someone who is hungry ALL THE TIME, I have tried this tip....I drink water by the quart, not the ounce....achy, tired, headache, heartburn, dry mouth, constant sneezing,swollen joints, chubby puffy feet....the first thing I do is down 8 ounces of filtered water. Rarely does this abate the hungry feeling, but it does help with pretty much EVERYTHING else on the list. Water is my main beverage. My hunger is what impedes my weight loss....not my water consumption. - 8/15/2012   9:41:18 AM
  • 20
    The links work for me well.
    and we drink alot of Distilled water.
    Water is very good for you. - 8/15/2012   9:17:21 AM
  • 19
    My daughters tease me because my response to them when they complained about not feeling well was always, "Drink a glass of water. You'll feel better!" It's true! - 8/15/2012   9:01:41 AM
    The link to Family Circle does not work.
    In addition to other comments, drinking a couple glasses of water can often take care of a headache. - 8/15/2012   7:48:15 AM
  • 17
    such a good reminder - 8/15/2012   7:47:38 AM
    I can get headaches when I am hungry or thirsty. One day, I thought I was hungry when I was really thirsty. I ate. The headache did not go away. I ate again. The headache did not go away. I had a glass of water. Headache went away AND I was completely full and could not eat dinner. - 8/15/2012   7:46:56 AM
  • 15
    I've incorporate my drinking water w/ getting the kiddos to drink water instead if pop. They even have their own filtered cups.
    - 8/15/2012   7:29:34 AM
  • 14
    "Water is essential and is needed in almost every part of the body including the cells, tissues, and organs."

    You do realize that organs are made up of tissues which in turn are made up of cells, right? That makes that phrasing kind of redundant.

    Anyway, I've seen that claim about hunger and thirst triggers being the same, but I've never had trouble distinguishing the two.

    You don't mention that much of the water that people consume comes from the food they eat. Fruits and veggies, especially have a high water content. - 8/15/2012   7:19:51 AM
  • 13
    I drink water all day. In fact, it is the only thing I drink 90% of the time. I often finish 3 liters of water a day and more if I sweat a lot during workouts. I can always tell if I haven't drank any water for a while, but I don't like spending so much time in the bathroom! - 8/15/2012   4:17:07 AM
  • 12
    I started drinking lots of water when I gave up pop a few years ago. Interesting info about the hunger - thirst connection. - 8/14/2012   11:10:32 PM
  • 11
    Hehe, I drink a LOT of water.

    At work is usually anywhere from 4 to 8 cups of water because I have a filter pitcher that holds a half gallon and a gallon jug next to it that I pour into it. I refill my 12 oz mug any time it is empty and just drink all day. At the gym I carry two 1 liter bottles of water. Usually in an hour of cardio I finish off more than half, if not the whole, of one - and can go through another half doing my weight training. At home I finish off the leftovers in the water bottles from the gym.

    I sort of use the SP tracker - but don't track past 8. I make sure I get enough, but am not too concerned about whether it is 8 or 9 or 12 or more. - 8/14/2012   4:18:59 PM
  • 10
    I learned about the thirst vs hunger trigger just a few months ago. I now try to drink at least a glass of water before eating anything. - 8/14/2012   3:20:15 PM
    I don't go by glasses of water to drink. I just sip water through the day and chug extra if I feel thirsty. And if I'm honest, the thing I pay most attention to is the colour of my pee. Water needs are really individual - I think if I stuck to just 8 glasses it wouldn't be enough. Especially not if it is a hot day. - 8/14/2012   3:12:54 PM
  • 8
    Love this tip! I have a sign on my fridge that says "You are Not Hungry, Your Bored. Drink Some Water and Learn to Tell the Difference" I think I found it while wasting some time on pinterest. It really helps me a lot! - 8/14/2012   1:28:35 PM
  • 7
    I have just renewed my committment to SP and myself, so am in the process of re-establishing my "water addiction". For now, I find I'm tired all the time - a condition which I am sure is at least partially due to lack of hydration. I have just started using the tracker again, and am building my intake up to 8 glasses daily. - 8/14/2012   1:13:05 PM
    Yes, drink 8 to much running to the rest room to drink more. How do you do it? I do use the tracker. - 8/14/2012   10:02:09 AM
    I drink 10+ glasses of water everyday and use the Sparkpeople water tracking - 8/14/2012   9:56:20 AM
    I am working on drinking my water. - 8/14/2012   9:53:46 AM
  • 3
    Yes, I drink 7-9 glasses a day, and yes I do track. - 8/14/2012   9:25:33 AM
  • 2
    Please let us know when the links are fixed.. thank you

    I drink 8 servings a day and Yes I use the tracker - 8/14/2012   9:07:30 AM
  • 1
    Those links are errors??? - 8/14/2012   6:49:28 AM

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