Hunger VS Appetite - Can you tell the difference?
By Dani Sacht
Our bodies are very clever! They’re delicate and intricate with complex biochemical processes that help us thrive and survive. Just like a mechanical machine requires proper fuel to function, our bodies require the same attention to function optimally. Want to be let in on a secret? Humans get hungry! And it’s 100% normal to feel hungry. Hunger is a crucial element of survival. So what exactly is the difference between feeling hungry, and fuelling your appetite?
Hunger: Hunger is the signal telling us that our bodies require more fuel for energy.
We get our fuel from food. Wonderful, glorious, delicious food! When we need more fuel, our body will tell us. Hunger is a protective mechanism to ensure our cells have enough energy and nutrients to thrive and function. Due to low blood glucose (sugar) levels, complex signalling and chemical changes occur to let us know our cells need more fuel. Ever noticed how a hungry belly is not very polite? An empty belly begins to growl and rumble as the hormone ghrelin, stimulates our appetite and communicates the need for food. Hunger is a signal that shouldn’t be ignored as everything we do requires energy. Even as you’re reading this, your body is using energy to pump your heart, expand your lungs and help you sit up right. Feeling hungry is normal and essential.
Appetite: Appetite is the response to food, prompted by factors that are often emotionally or psychologically triggered.
Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked muffins, an advert for creamy ice-cream or the milky free chocolate samples at the shops? More often than not, these cues result in us craving foods and eating, even if we have enough energy and nutrients. When something looks or smells delicious, our sensory response kicks in and we begin to tingle in our bellies and salivate! Our appetite has a close behavioural and emotional connection to food. This is why you rarely hear someone craving brussel sprouts. Our appetite often leads to cravings of sugary, refined, high fatty foods with little nutrition.
Next time you feel like something to eat, be mindful if it is your hunger signalling or your appetite. Knowing the difference and becoming more in tune with your body can be the first step in gaining control over your health!
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