Hunger vs. Appetite

I love talking about the difference between hunger and appetite.  Do you have any clue what the difference actually is?  Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they’re very different!

Hunger is the physiological need for food.

Appetite is the psychological desire for food. 

So let’s see why understanding the difference between the two is actually important.  What are some signs of hunger?  Stomach growling, light-headedness/dizziness, low blood sugar, etc.  Now let’s think about appetite for a minute…as I mentioned it is your psychological desire, so there’s nothing physiological going on here.  Appetite is driven by outside cues – the smell your favorite bakery as you walk by, being in a social situation around food, or maybe your mood.  If you end up eating but it was not caused by hunger, it was your appetite speaking.

It’s really hard in our society today to control your appetite, especially when we’re surrounded by food 24 hours each day!  If you’re upset and you want your favorite comfort food you can have it in minutes!  If you’re trying to eat really well, but go to a cocktail party with your favorite food that you cannot resist it’s hard to stay in control.  Or if you walk by your favorite pizza shop even if you’re not hungry and you’re committed not to stop in, but the smell draws you in, that was your appetite speaking. 

Appetite is hard to suppress, especially since we give in to these temptations all the time.  The next time you are around food ask yourself this “Am I actually hungry?”  I know it’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re hungry or not, but try to pay attention to your hunger before and after every time you eat to  get an idea of what it’s like to be hungry and full.  And if you’re not hungry, but you decided that you still want to eat – address it and be aware that you’re not hungry.  When you eat all the time from outside cues it’s hard to control your weight. 

I challenge you to start paying close attention to your reason for eating, is it driven by hunger or appetite?

Do you pay attention to your hunger levels and try not to eat when you are not hungry?


One Response

  1. I love this post!! I’ll hear people claiming that they’re “hungry all the time,” but that usually means more then just stomach hunger. That’s when I usually will try to explain the difference between the two, and I like how you broke down the meanings and differences between them. 😀

    It’s taken some time, but I’m definitely more aware of my hunger cues then I once was, as well as actually listening to these cues. I feel like they get stronger with time once I started actually listening to them rather then ignoring them like I did when I was younger. 😉

    Thanks for such an informational post!

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