Appetite itself is a good thing. Having a healthy appetite means that you will likely get the nutrients you need. But it can be easy for a person to let their appetite take over their better judgment, leading to over-eating and obesity. Remind yourself of the difference between appetite and hunger - it can help you keep a more balanced attitude toward food and eating.
Hunger is the need to eat. If you're hungry, you need food because your body is telling you so. It's sending you signals, like those rumbling stomach growls known as hunger pangs. Hunger cannot be controlled; it is instinctive. And for some individuals, ignoring hunger can cause serious consequences. Waiting too long to eat once hunger kicks in may mean the risk of low blood sugar and the wooziness and fatigue that come with it.
Appetite is the desire to eat. Appetite occurs as a coordinated effort between your brain and your belly. When you feast your eyes on a delicious, delectable food, your mouth may water, and you can practically taste it and feel the textures on your palate. Even the mere thought of food can elicit the same emotional response. But unlike hunger, appetite can be ignored. And since appetite levels are greatly influenced by your brain, it is a learned behaviour, and you can even learn to control and change the level of your appetite.
Controlling your appetite is different from having a decreased appetite. This is when, despite hunger and the body's ongoing need for nutrients, a person has a reduced desire to eat. A person's appetite may decline during illness or as a side effect of medical treatment. Appetite may also decrease with age.
See a doctor if you notice that you are losing weight without trying. Likewise, you should speak to your doctor if you experience an unexplained and persistent increase in appetite. This could be caused by particular medications or could indicate an underlying condition.
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