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How Your Hunger Affects Your Weight

Aug 17, 2007
The major reason people eat is because they are hungry. Unfortunately, hunger is not the only reason for eating. Some people don't eat at all if they are sick or worried while others eat much more when stress overwhelms them. Hunger is a good reason to eat but hunger doesn't necessarily mean physical hunger.

A study of hunger in children, which was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that appetite is a learned response as determined by past food experiences. Appetite is different than hunger. Appetite is based a lot on the conscious and subconscious feelings that we have associated with food in the past. Since eating habits are learned in early childhood, their parents' attitude about meals and foods plays a major part in their eating habits.

If children are nagged to "clean your plate" or are offered cookies or candy as a reward for "being good," this affects their adult appetite responses.

We have seen that dietary habits are set early in life. Food preferences are also set early on. Once food preferences have been set it is very difficult to change them. It has been shown that some starving people will refuse to eat strange foods or foods that are against their religious or cultural beliefs.

Food and appetite play a confusing part in peoples' lives. Some families eat moderate portion sizes. Others are taught to eat a great deal more than they need. Parents show their love by feeding their loved ones.

It is unfortunate, but there are parents that are cruel or do not give their children what they need emotionally. Some of these children will grow up to use food to try to fill the empty feeling that they have - they are trying to nourish themselves emotionally with food.

People overeat for a variety of reasons. Knowing what those reasons the may help break the cycle. Some people eat because they're happy or sad and others stop eating for the same reasons. This lack of appetite is especially true for the elderly who live alone. They eat more processed foods and a less balanced diet because it's too much trouble to cook "just for myself."

We've established that people eat because they're hungry. But, what is the definition of hunger? Hunger is "a sensation produced by a complex mechanism governed by the nervous system. It makes the stomach contract and gives you that "hungry" sensation. This sensation can be relieved by eating, of course, but it can also be temporarily relieved by smoking, drinking cold water or by being distracted by something of interest.

There are people whose hunger is seldom relieved even when their stomachs are full. This tells us that hunger is not only a physical mechanism but it is also controlled by our emotions. It is our emotions, our past food experiences and our genes that have made us what we are - underweight, ideal weight, overweight or somewhere in between.
About the Author
Jude Wright is an author and webmistress of multiple websites. Visit her Nutritious-Cooking.com site for nutrition information, healthy recipes and meal plans.
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