In our everyday lives we tend to use the two words – hunger and appetite – as mutually interchangeable terms with the same meaning. But actually both are different. Hunger is a physical sensation. Here, we feel the urge to eat. We feel hunger when we have skipped a meal or two on a hectic office day. Hunger is that stomach-growling feeling that serves as an alert warning. It signals thus: ‘you better find food fast’.
Appetite, on the other hand, is decided by many factors. It is more related to emotions rather than physical need. Your appetite speaks up when you are frustrated, angry, depressed or sad. That is why you find a cup of ice cream as soothing in the midst of an emotional turmoil. Again, your appetite peeps out when you find the bowl of jellybeans at the counter. You might not be the least hungry; still you yearn for it. That is your appetite calling. It is simply a desire for food. Obese people are more likely to crave for sweets and fatty food. Appetite is also found to vary with age, customs and economic status. Food likes and dislikes enter into the feeing of every family. Appetite does not necessarily lead one to good nutrition. Generally, conditioning or learning alters appetites.
It is healthier to pay heed only to your hunger signals and play deaf ears to appetite calls. There are certain factors that arouse your appetite. Colour, aroma, manner of serving, presentation are the food related factors. Certain external factors also play a major role in deciding your appetite. Pleasant company, happy mood, favourite music as background etc are some of them. Abnormal appetite found in children, especially for sweets, are to be strictly controlled since it will lead to serious health hazards. If a child is provided with adequate quantities of quality food that is rich in nutrients, studies show that he will not show abnormal appetite in normal case.