Appetite VS. Hunger

There is a very significant difference between appetite and hunger and if people were able to tell the difference, we’d be a lot better off and we would only eat when we were actually hungry.

APPETITE: psychological desire to eat certain foods. Our appetite changes depending on the food environment and the eating environment.

FOOD ENVIRONMENT: The way food speaks to you with its size, shape, smell, taste, variety, packaging, and preservation.  All of these  play key roles in the amount and the types of food we consume. If something smells good we consume more or if we have a variety of choices we tend to eat more (on average people will eat more jelly beans out of a bowl if they are multi-colored then they would from a bowl of single colored jelly beans!). These food environments play with our wants and desires for foods making us eat more, and usually it’s not just extra carrots.

EATING ENVIRONMENT: How much we eat and how fast we eat based on our mood, expectations, money, light/sound, comfort, social setting, and proximity play a role in how much and what kinds of foods we eat. If you go to an expensive restaurant you eat course after course, they expect you to sit down and be eating continuously through the night, compared to fast food where they try to get you in, get you out, and replace where you were sitting with a new body, making you eat faster, and possibly consuming more. Proximity is a good way to judge appetite, if you crave something but it is out of your way, it’s your appetite talking, if you can’t go without something because your starving, it’s hunger.

HUNGER: Physiological sensation that prompts us to eat (Triggered by the hypothalamus in the brain).

When we are truly hungry we will practically eat anything we can get our hands on. The hunger hormone ghrelin does exactly what you think, it produces the feeling of hunger making you want to eat, ghrelin response a lot to meal schedules and goes up before meals and goes down after meals. After your meal leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone kicks in, sending signals to the brain telling you that you have eaten enough.

If you follow your simple hunger cues and try to eat slower to give your hormones time to send signals from your stomach to your brain, you will eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.


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