Hunger Vs. Appetite

Which one are you?

I am hungry!

I have a big appetite.

Maybe it is both but do you know the difference between the two? I know for me the two words were very similar and I couldn’t give you the definition of one specifically. I would just rub my belly and say it was related to how I felt if I didn’t eat. However, there is a huge difference between the word hunger and appetite and I want to dive into this some.

Let’s give you an example:  You are offered a yummy scoop of chocolate ice cream drizzled with caramel. If this sounds tempting, you would likely feel a desire for this sweet treat. If that is the case, you are experiencing appetite. And to ensure that you just had an appetite response, ask yourself if you were thinking about eating ice cream a second ago. Likely not. The urge to eat (appetite) comes on quickly and can be easily influenced by verbal or visual suggestions. Therefore, you could have an “appetite” for foods like ice cream opposed to being physically hungry for it? Make sense?


*Desire comes on quickly and strong
*Requires instant satisfaction
*Easily influenced by smells and visuals
*May feel guilty or not-so-great after eating

*Desire comes on gradually
*Can wait till food is available
*You are aware of what you are eating
*Feelings of satisfaction when you are done eating

Now, having an appetite doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t eat when you get those “appetite” cravings. It just means you should be aware of why we are eating and be mindful of what we are eating. A lot of eating is a social dynamic which leads to overeating and poor choices this can lead to eating out of response to our appetite and not our hunger NEEDS. Learning these cues will certainly help staying focused and eating wisely. 

Bottom Line: Whatever your reason for eating, it is estimated that we make over 2,000 food choices every single day and most of them we make without even realizing it. Food provides a source of enjoyment and pleasure. The vital thing to remember is to always keep the dialogue going between you and your stomach so you stay on top of your eating.  

September 8, 2020

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