The Influences of Hunger and Appetite
At this current time, social media allows people to have access to food recipes, influencers, food bloggers and food gurus, and experts at their fingertips, night, and day. How does one keep up and how does one know what is sound advice and what is not?
We have vegetarians, meat-eaters, vegans, Lacto-vegans, Lacto-vegetarians, pescatarians, paleo diets, vegetarians, clean eaters, and many more.
Are we eating right? According to who? What determines when we begin to eat and when to stop? Hunger is a powerful motivator and usually a good indicator of when to eat? But how do we know when we are hungry. Here in the western world where food is in abundance do, we really know what it is to be hungry or starving?
Different cultures will have different timings of when they eat, difference in portion sizes, a difference in how many meals they have a day (in some parts of Europe people can have up to five meals a day and in more impoverished countries they may only have one meal a day).
Are we eating to sustain ourselves or indulge and or even overindulge ourselves?
The sight and smell of food are cues that can induce people to eat or overeat. But they are not major determinants of eating even when these cues are eliminated people can still regulate their food intake.
Most of us believe that our stomachs will guide us to know if we are hungry, this maybe by contractions that we may experience noted as hunger when our stomachs are empty and when full we “should” be able to stop. But do we? People who have had cancers, resulting for their stomach to be removed, are still able to regulate their food intake, therefore, the question is is the stomach the indicator of when one feels hungry?
What then determines our eating, hunger, and appetite? Nutritional and physiological research suggests that there is a complex system that monitors the quantities of various nutrients (for example glucose and fats stored in our bodies. This system will motivate us to eat when our nutrient levels fall critically below these nutrient stores. This system is known as homeostatic i.e., self-regulating, and stable. As in animals, we can have stable body weights even when given an excessive amount of food. Animals are a lot more intuitive than humans and can stop when they have had enough.
However, a simple homeostatic model does not explain human eating behaviour. For this to be self-regulating or stable, several nutrient variables must be regulated. Numerable satiety sensors detecting that a sufficient volume of food has entered the system is also factored in.
Eating behaviour does not follow simple energy or nutrient regulation intelligence. When we walk down the street, we note people who are extremely obese or extremely thin, if our homeostatic gauge were the only measure of our hunger then we would all be a similar, stable size. Therefore, something else is going on. There is obviously a complex interplay between physical and emotional determinants of hunger and satiety. It is essential to understand both.
If you have an eating disorder, book a consultation and see how I can help you.