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question

What is the difference between hunger and appetite?

Manuel Villacorta
Manuel Villacorta on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition & Dietetics
answer
Hunger is not the same as appetite. Appetite is the desire to eat. While hunger is a cue from your body, appetite is a cue from your brain. Another way to think about this is that appetite is a luxury and a choice -- a modern concept that appeared once humans had the option of choosing when and what they wanted to eat.

We often confuse hunger and appetite, and it's important, when learning how to lose weight, to know the difference. We often lump both concepts under "hunger," telling ourselves we are "hungry for Chinese food" when in fact we have an appetite for it. Maybe we are bored, stressed-out, or sad, and eating makes us feel better. That's behavioral eating, which happens for emotional reasons unrelated to true, survival-based hunger.
Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

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Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

Eating Free reveals why the prevailing wisdom on weight loss--low-calorie, no carbs, high-intensity exercise--sharply clashes with the facts of human biology and human nature, setting dieters up for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.