At first glance, hunger and appetite may appear to be the same thing. But upon closer examination, we can see that some types of appetite may not be so good for our health.
Hunger vs Appetite
Here’s a way to think about the difference between hunger and appetite:
Hunger is when you eat a green salad and think it’s just the most delicious thing you’ve eaten, EVER!
Appetite is when you’ve just finished a large meal and are overly full, but when you see the dessert menu, you suddenly have room for that chocolate sundae.
Hunger can drive appetite, but we can also experience appetite without hunger. It’s this kind of hunger-lacking appetite that undermines our health.
It really comes down to physiology vs. psychology. Hunger is a biologically driven response to a lack of energy while appetite is a desire. Hunger makes most foods appealing while appetite is more selective.
Why It Matters
The problem is that we too often mistake appetite for hunger. This matters because it 1) undermines our health and 2) sabotages our attempts at weight management and weight loss.
When we live in a constant state of appetite, never allowing ourselves to be truly hungry, it leads to inappropriate eating. Both too much food and too much of the wrong kind of foods. Even selective or occasional appetite without hunger can cause us to eat too much or the wrong types of foods.
Hunger makes healthier foods more appealing and eating them more pleasurable. This doesn’t mean that you need to starve yourself! In fact, that could backfire, leading you to consume everything and anything in your hunger-crazed path.
Be Aware of Hunger and Appetite
Becoming aware of both your hunger and your appetite is essential to your health. We typically lead busy, distracted lives tuning out our body’s needs. It creates a kind of eating autopilot that’s based on time-of-day and availability. Good nutrition is essential to our health and conscious eating is the best way to avoid the negative effects of appetite.
So tune in! Ask yourself if it’s really hunger driving your appetite or something else. And take advantage of hunger’s power to make steamed broccoli the best, most delicious food, EVER!
Until next time, stay well!
Dr. Tobi Schmidt