The Difference Between Hunger and Appetite

What is the Difference between Hunger &  Appetite?  Don’t these words mean the same thing?

This is a very important question in nutrition, in weight loss, & overall health.  To have the most success in our Transformation Program, it’s vital for folks to understand the difference. Both hunger & appetite are involuntary.  They both have to do with eating. That is pretty much where the similarity ends.
Appetite is the involuntary, instinctive, genetically determined and or the habitual, operant conditioned, attitudinally influenced craving for food in general & specific foods in particular.  For example, if a person smells, sees, thinks about, or hears about delicious food, that person will involuntarily salivate, the stomach juices will stir, stomach acid secretion will increase and that person may feel an intense desire to consume/eat that particular food – or any food for that matter.  Their appetite has been stimulated.  These are examples of hard-wired, genetically determined automatic & instinctive reflex responses, all of which are important components of a human’s ability to survive in a world in which the food supply is uncertain as was the case for our ancestors throughout most of history, but may lead to uncontrolled & unhealthy over-eating in a world in which there is an abundance of readily available & cheap food, such as the world we now live in.
Or, if a person is used to eating a particular time, such as first thing in the morning or at noon or at 6:00p.m. – when those times come, the same thing may happen. Or, if a person knows that whenever they show up at their mom’s house, she always has food prepared, especially if it’s a favorite, while thinking about or driving to Mom’s house, the mouth salivates, the stomach stirs, and that person ‘prepares’ to eat. These are all examples of appetite stimulation through operant conditioning. Pavlov did a famous experiment in which he fed dogs at various intervals but always rang a bell at the time he fed them.  He also measured their stomach acid secretion and their salivation at the time he fed them. It was not long before the dogs salivated and their stomach acid secretion increased when he rang the bell whether he fed them or not.  So it is that when a person has a HABIT of eating at a certain time or under certain circumstances, the appetite is stimulated when those conditions arise. Many of us assume this means that we are HUNGRY. Most of the time, we are not. Have you heard someone say, “I’m full but I am hungry for dessert?”  No, they are not ‘hungry’ for anything, they simply have an appetite or craving for dessert.  Appetite & want are the same thing.  They ‘want’ dessert. 
Hunger intrudes itself into consciousness when a person has not eaten for a long enough period that their cellular supply of stored carbohydrate,  their  ‘glycogen’ supply is low.  A person will be busily engaged in an important activity and completely focused on a project at hand when suddenly they become aware that they are hungry.  True hunger may feel different for different people & one of the things people have to learn to be successful in losing weight or being healthier is to distinguish between hunger and appetite.  
 When we began the Beauty & Wellness Center, we simply referred to one of our most sought after & effective programs as ‘Weight Loss’ but we began seeing so many patients lives transformed with the amount of weight that they were able to lose that we now refer to it as the Transformation Program! We literally have burned roughly 250,000 pounds of FAT in the ArkLaTex area in the past ten years! Our focus is on BURNING Fat and not simply COUNTING calories.  Utilizing accountability, basic science & physiology, health coaching and a weight loss formula – the only things you have to lose is weight!  Our Transformation goals are designed around our patients needs and medical profiles to help them achieve the quality of life, mental and physical well-being they want. As you lose weight, your attitude changes, your body & overall happiness will improve too.  Ironically, as most patients lose weight, they gain control over their lives & choices they make. A world where your mind is clear and you wake up with energy & excitement is within reach.  What’s more, our Transformation Program can reduce the appearance of age & associated conditions.  It can aid in reducing blood-pressure & lowering your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease & a number of other conditions.  And, it all begins with simply understanding the difference between appetite and real hunger.