Hunger is a need for food.
Appetite is an interest in food.
Cravings is a desire for specific foods.
For those of us who have difficulty controlling our food-intake,
it is important to stop and examine why we want to eat something.
Hunger is a signal from the body that it needs food for energy.
Our stomachs and brains will provide cutes that tell us to eat.
Signals from the stomach could be growling, an empty,
hollow feeling, or hunger pangs.
The brain’s signals can be a headache, trouble concentrating,
irritability or fogginess
Some people experience physical fatigue.
Hunger doesn’t go away over time. It only gets worse.
...(An exception exists when you are several days into a water fast.)...
Any food will satisfy hunger and take the hunger signals away.
Appetite is not the same thing as hunger. It actually refers to an interest in food.
Cravings are very different than hunger, but are very similar to appetite.
To crave means “to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly”.
Usually the foods one craves are not a necessity, and don’t serve
a life-sustaining need.
Cravings, unlike hunger signals, will change over time,
even over a period of 10 minutes. They are usually triggered
by emotions like stress, boredom, sadness, etc.
Unlike hunger, where any food will quell the sensation,
only one specific food will satisfy a craving.
Hunger, Appetite and Cravings are all a normal part of eating,
and have a place in a healthy diet. However, we need to learn to satisfy outselves
in a controlled manner to keep from overeating, especially since the majority
of the foods we crave are high in sugar, salt, fat, or some combination of the three.
Those of us who have difficulties with our weight need to work to make conscious decisions.
Some people find a “Hunger Scale” (such as the one below)
useful to assess their hunger levels.
Hunger Level Sensations and Symptoms
1 Starving, weak, dizzy
2 Very hungry, cranky, low energy, a lot of stomach growling
3 Pretty hungry, stomach is growling a little
4 Starting to feel a little hungry
5 Satisfied, neither hungry nor full
6 A little full, pleasantly full
7 A little uncomfortable
8 Feeling stuffed
9 Very uncomfortable, stomach hurts
10 So full you feel sick
I think the ideal weight-loss or maintenance eating goal would be to acheive Number 5 at mealtimes.
IF one is eating in response to body signals,...rather than specific mealtime schedules...
one would eat when feeling a Number 2 or 3 hunger level... but only eat until one is Satisfied,
and no longer Hungry, but not actually Full.
I've always found assessing and responding to hunger levels to be an extremely challenging task,
and personally, I tend to fail at it far more often than I succeed. That is one of the main reasons
for my personal choice to record all my daily food intake, and count my calories.
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