Understanding and Managing Hunger, Appetite and Cravings

Understanding and Managing Hunger, Appetite and Cravings

You might have heard about cravings, appetite and hunger. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different experiences related to eating. Let’s understand what each of them means and how they differ from one another. Additionally, there are some practical tips on how to manage cravings and appetite.

Hunger is the body’s natural signal that it needs food for energy. It’s a physical sensation that can include a growling stomach, weakness, or headache. For example, after a long day at work without a proper meal, you might feel hunger pangs that prompt you to eat.

Appetite is the desire to eat food, often due to external cues rather than actual hunger. It’s more psychological and can be influenced by factors like emotions, environment, or the sight and smell of food. Imagine walking past a bakery and the aroma of fresh bread increases your desire to eat, even if you’re not truly hungry.

Cravings are a strong desire for a specific type of food or taste. Unlike hunger, cravings are not about needing energy or nutrients. They are often linked to emotional states, stress, or hormonal changes. For instance, you might crave chocolate when you’re feeling down or need a comfort food.

Now, how do we differentiate between these three?

Hunger is a necessity, appetite is a desire, and cravings are a specific longing. Hunger is about the body’s need for food, appetite is about wanting to eat for pleasure, and cravings focus on particular foods or tastes.

How to control cravings and appetite ?

Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Hydrate: Staying hydrated is crucial because the body can confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking water before meals can also help you feel fuller, reducing the likelihood of overeating. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, and if you’re not a fan of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber for flavor.

2. Eat Balanced Meals: A balanced meal includes a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber. Carbohydrates provide quick energy, proteins help with satiety, fats give long-lasting energy, and fiber slows digestion, keeping you full longer. For example, a balanced plate might include eggs (protein), milk or yogurt (carbohydrate), avocado (fat), and a side of mixed vegetables (fiber).

3. Plan Your Meals: Meal planning helps you avoid impulsive decisions when you’re already hungry. By knowing what you’re going to eat ahead of time, you can ensure you have the right ingredients on hand and avoid reaching for unhealthy options. Set aside time each week to plan your meals and snacks.

4. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep deprivation can disrupt the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, leading to increased cravings and overeating. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine to improve your sleep quality.

5. Manage Stress: Stress can lead to emotional eating and cravings for high-calorie comfort foods. Find stress-relief techniques that work for you, such as deep breathing, meditation, or exercise. Regular physical activity can also help reduce stress and improve mood.

6. Mindful Eating: This involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. Notice the colors, smells, textures, and flavors of your food. Chew slowly and savor each bite. Mindful eating can help you recognize when you’re full and reduce the chances of overeating.

7. Keep Healthy Snacks Handy: When cravings strike, having healthy alternatives readily available can make a big difference. Stock your pantry with snacks like nuts, seeds, fruit, and yogurt. These options are not only nutritious but also satisfying, which can help curb the urge to indulge in less healthy treats.

8. Supplements with Garcinia Cambogia, Triphala, Kali Jeeri, Green Coffee, and Piperine help manage cravings and appetite. They work by suppressing appetite, aiding digestion, regulating bowel movements, influencing carb absorption, and supporting weight management. Consult a health professional before starting any new supplement.

9. Protein can help reduce appetite and hunger levels, making you feel more full with less food. This is partly because protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin and boosts levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full. You can incorporate meal replacement protein powder into your daily routine.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between hunger, appetite, and cravings is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food. By being mindful of your body’s signals and managing your eating habits, you can control cravings and appetite effectively.

*This article draws on data and information from reports/articles published by Temper, The Indian Express, Healthline, and other sources to provide information on cravings, appetite, and hunger, and their management.
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