Appetite refers to a person's desire to consume food. It differs from hunger, which is the biological response of the body to a lack of food. A person can have an appetite even if their body isn't hungry, and vice versa.
A person's appetite can fluctuate due to a variety of factors, causing them to eat less or more than their body requires.
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When the body recognises that it requires more food, it sends a signal to the brain to eat. The following are common signs of hunger:
In contrast, someone who has a strong desire to eat may find that certain factors stimulate their appetite. These could include:
Boredom, stress, or another state of heightened emotion
seeing or smelling food that they enjoy
a custom, a habit, or a special occasion
A person's appetite can also be affected by health conditions, medications, and environmental factors. Hunger can be influenced by factors such as lifestyle and health.
Factors Influencing Appetite
A variety of factors can influence appetite. Here are a few common examples:
The emotional state of a person has a significant impact on their appetite. Some people may eat more food to cope with their emotions, such as stress or grief, but for others, these emotions have the opposite effect.
Some mental conditions can also affect appetite, such as:
According to some research Trusted Source, depression can either increase or decrease a person's appetite. Some people associate food with reward and may overeat in order to feel better.
Binge eating disorder is characterised by periods of excessive overeating, which are followed by feelings of guilt and shame. A person suffering from this disorder may have a strong desire for food and eat it even if they are not hungry. Anorexia nervosa, a condition where a person restricts their food intake, may reduce a person's urge to consume even though their body requires food.
Nausea, constipation, and stomach pressure from a growing foetus can all reduce a pregnant woman's appetite. Dietitians advice pregnant women with a lack of appetite to try the following:
Eating smaller meals more frequently consuming high-energy foods such as fruit, nuts, and cheese
Making smoothies at home that are high in energy and nutrients
Pregnancy can also cause cravings, which can increase appetite. According to a 2014 study Trusted Source, cultural norms influence what foods women crave during pregnancy, which may lead to overeating.
A person's appetite can be affected by a variety of medications. Among the medications that can cause weight gain are:
Metoprolol and other blood pressure medications (Lopressor)
some antiepileptic medications
specific diabetes medications
Prednisone and other steroid hormones (Deltasone)
antidepressants like paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft)
A Person's Appetite Can be Affected by a Variety of Medical Conditions, Including:
Infection: Bacterial or viral illnesses, such as viral gastroenteritis, can reduce a person's appetite temporarily.
Thyroid Disease: Thyroid disease has a significant impact.
In terms of appetite If a person has hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, they may notice an increase or decrease in their appetite.
Cancer: Depending on the symptoms, as well as the location of the tumour and whether it releases hormones, cancer can sometimes cause a direct loss of appetite. It can also cause indirect appetite loss as a result of a person's response to treatment.
Parkinson's Disease: According to the Parkinson's Foundation, this condition can cause a loss of taste or smell, which may cause a person's appetite to decrease.
Kidney Disease: When the kidneys fail, certain waste products accumulate in the bloodstream. This buildup can cause a loss of appetite.
How to Boost Appetite?
If a person has a low appetite as a result of an underlying medical condition, treating the condition may help.
For longer-term causes of low appetite, such as cancer, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) recommends that people change their eating habits to increase their desire for food by:
Eating Foods Which Look and Smell Attractive
Using Fragrant Spices and Herbs to Enhance the Flavor
Making Meals Interesting by Playing Music as Well as Displaying the Food in an Appealing Way
Eating Smaller, More Regular Meals During the Day
Eating at Consistent Times Each Day
Planning Food the Day Before
Drinking Liquids in Abundance
Because other lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise, and stress all have an impact on appetite, PanCAN recommends: