Ever wondered ‘why do you eat, even though you are not hungry?, or just finished your meal, but still feel hungry? The answer lies in understanding the difference between your hunger and appetite sensations. Confused? Read on to know how to satisfy your hunger whilst taming your appetite!
Although appetite and hunger are closely related, they are quite different and distinct from each other.
In the nutrition circuit, the three primary factors regulating food intake may be listed as:
- The hunger centre, situated in the hypothalamus.
- The appetite centre, which is placed in the stem of the brain
- And the satiety centre, which is connected to the appetite and hunger centre through a neural system.
Why do we feel hungry?
It is the hunger centre that is responsible for the long term, metabolic, regulation of food intake over days and weeks. The hunger centre is responsible to maintain normal quantities of nutrient stores and to control the physiological manifestations of hunger. The factors which influence our hunger centre are:
- When we have lowered blood glucose concentrations, hunger center gets activated to cause the sensation of hunger.
- When amino acids (constituents of protein molecules) concentration in the blood decreases, hunger increases, although this effect is not perceived as powerful as our glucose requirement.
- When the number of fat molecules in the body increases, our physiological hunger actually decreases.
- When we’re exposed to cold weather, we are physiologically stimulated to eat more as cold temperature increases our need to provide fat for insulation against the cold. Hence the tendency to feel hungrier during winters.
So, what is appetite?
While hunger is a craving for food associated with a number of sensations such as hunger pains or a “gnawing” feeling in the stomach, general tension, restlessness and ‘light headed’ feelings, appetite, is just a short-term, environmentally regulated stimulus to eat. The appetite is concerned with the eating factors like salivating, tasting, chewing, swallowing, and the clinical condition of the stomach and internal organs. Appetite is an emotional sensation associated with the desire to eat a certain food, based on the pleasure you experience while eating a particular food. As opposed to hunger, appetite may occur even when food reserves are sufficient.
Appetite versus Hunger
A clear distinction between the two can be put simply as ‘The desire for food is appetite while hunger is the sensation caused by fairly frequent and rhythmic contractions of the empty stomach, thus causing a desire for food. Appetite may be a consequence of hunger, but it does not always necessarily follow hunger. A few factors that may influence appetite are related to the color, aroma, presentation of the food and also emotions, pleasant company, and general state of happiness.
Satiety and its relation to hunger
Full satiation is obtained only when nutrients levels (such as glucose) in the blood increase; i.e. after the taken food is aptly absorbed. Hence, hunger and satiation are nothing but two sides of the same coin. Satiety, however, is more than mere absence of hunger, since it can be associated with pleasure and the feeling of a full stomach. A person seeking weight loss needs to improve his chances of attaining satiety easily and quickly by-
- Avoiding to eat meals in a hurry and chewing the food well;
- Avoiding distractions such as conversations, TV or other things that may affect normal satiation;
- Eating fiber dense foods in small proportions at regular intervals;
- Ensuring that the table is well-laid with nice-looking, aromatic food;
- Having a meal in a pleasant ambience with family and friends
All of the points above contribute to obtaining early satiation and helps to control one’s appetite in accordance with one’s true energy requirements.
Simple ways to Tame Appetite-
The basic principle for adequate eating is to tame your appetite to control your hunger. If you wait until you’re physiologically hungry before you eat, you may well consume two or three times the amount you actually need for adequate nutrition. This is usually the case with people who skip meals and then “overeat”, as it’s comparatively easy to brush aside your appetite but virtually impossible to ‘fight off’ real clinical hunger signals. To stop this happening, try to eat nutrient dense balanced meals every day.
ü Increase your intake of low-caloric and fiber-rich foods that can occupy significant portions of the stomach and eliminate gastric-induced hunger.
ü Take care to tame your appetite by following positive eating elements and eating within your calorie range.
ü Avoid taking appetite suppressants or anorectic medicines without prescription as they may cause effect your brain function adversely.
Foremost, remember that the primary cause of obesity, among others, is unbalanced nutrition and excessive calorie intake, originating from your unhealthy choice of foods. In all probability, you are a normal individual with a normal appetite and sensation of hunger and satiety who is above his ideal weight range due to consumption of diet which is disproportionately calorie rich!