When lions are hunting for dinner, they aren’t picky about what kind of animal will be their nourishment as they are hungry for meat! Elephants are grazers and eat plants of almost any size from grass to trees. It would be unheard of for a lion to pass up a gazelle because it had a craving for a hyena or for an elephant to walk past tree bark searching for a different flavored twig. So why is it humans are often motivated to eat based on what we feel like eating (pizza), rather than what our body is hungry for (nutrients)?
An array of biochemical signals are sent between the brain and the body to control both hunger and appetite. Hunger is a physical need for food, while appetite is a desire for food.
Moods and emotions like stress, loneliness or boredom can trigger cravings for fatty, sugary or salty foods instead of more nutritious options. Emotional eating can override signals of fullness.
Physical conditions such as blood sugar levels, hormones and even exercise can also influence appetite.
Being able to distinguish whether hunger or appetite is driving one’s next meal or snack is key to making a wise choice. This doesn’t mean to ignore cravings or a desire for food, instead be aware of what is motivating your choice and mindful deciding what and when to eat.
“A party without cake is just a meeting.” Julia Child