Understanding the Difference between Hunger and Appetite

People eat for two main reasons. The first reason is hunger; the second is appetite. Hunger and appetite are not synonyms. In fact, hunger and appetite are entirely different processes.

Hunger is the need for food. It is i A physical reaction that includes chemical changes in your body related to a naturally low level of glucose in your blood several hours after eating i An instinctive, protective mechanism that makes sure that your body gets the fuel it requires to function reasonably well

Appetite is the desire for food. It is i A sensory or psychological reaction (looks good! smells good!) that stimulates an involuntary physiological response (salivation, stomach contractions)

i A conditioned response to food (see the sidebar on Pavlov's dogs)

Pavlov's performing puppies

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) was a Russian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine in 1904 for his research on the digestive glands. Pavlov's Big Bang, though, was his identification of respondent conditioning — a fancy way of saying that you can train people to respond physically (or emotionally) to an object or stimulus that simply reminds them of something that they love or hate.

Pavlov tested respondent conditioning on dogs. He began by ringing a bell each time he offered food to his laboratory dogs so that the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with the sight and smell of food.

Then he rang the bell without offering the food, and the dogs responded as though food were on tap — salivating madly, even though the dish was empty.

Respondent conditioning applies to many things other than food. For example, it can make a winning Olympic athlete teary at the sight of the flag that represents his country. Food companies are great at using respondent conditioning to encourage you to buy their products: When you see a picture of a deep, dark, rich chocolate bar, doesn't your mouth start to water, and. . . . Hey, come back! Where are you going?

The practical difference between hunger and appetite is this: When you're hungry, you eat one hot dog. After that, your appetite may lead you to eat two more hot dogs just because they look appealing or taste good.

In other words, appetite is the basis for the familiar saying: "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach." Not to mention the well-known advertising slogan: "Bet you can't eat just one." Hey, these guys know their customers.

0 0

Post a comment