Did you ever end up having dinner at your favorite restaurant, walking down the street, seeing a patisserie with its incredibly beautiful cake in the showcase and you couldn’t resist to buy a piece of chocolate cake and fluffy espresso? Later in the evening, you can’t sleep from the caffeine in chocolate and coffee and wonder, “Why did I surrender to this temptation?!”
Body mechanisms that signal to eat
Two mechanisms prompt us to ask for food. One is hunger, a physiological need for food. This need is nonspecific and every food will ease the feeling of hunger.
The second mechanism makes us greedy and this is the appetite – the physiological need to want a specific food. It excites when specific ‘irritants’ appear in front of you like a piece of cake, an irresistibly prepared piece of meat, a coffee scent. These incentives make us feel good and often provoke memories.
Having appetite without being hungry
In most cases, people have appetite without being hungry. That’s why we can not resist the delicious dessert, even if you’re belly is full.
This part of the brain sends the ‘I am hungry’ alert
The hypothalamus makes us hungry. Because hunger is a physiological incentive to look for food, it is often accompanied by negative emotions.
The brain is responsible for these negative feelings, not our stomach. The part in the brain that is responsible for the hunger is the hypothalamus. He is responsible for many other involuntary activities. The hypothalamus regulates the feeling of hunger through the signals it sends to the nerve cells in the stomach and the hormonal signals.
The role of nerve cells
One of the signals that control hunger comes from special nerve cells located in the stomach and the small intestine. These cells sense whether they are empty. This information is sent to the hypothalamus. If you have not eaten for several hours and your stomach and intestines are empty, the hypothalamus will alert you that it is time to eat.
The role of hormones
Hormones are chemicals that are secreted into many glands in our body. Insulin and glucagon are the hormones that regulate the levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the most easily degraded fuel for our body. That’s why its blood levels are directly related to the feeling of hunger.
When we do not eat for some time blood glucose levels fall, this causes a change in the hormones insulin and glucagon.
They report to the hypothalamus which signals that we need to eat to raise our blood glucose. When the stomach is full, and glucose in normal levels, we already feel fuller. Still, the brain sends us a hunger signal.
Many of us are listening to these signals and continue to eat even though they are not really hungry.
The role of the type and amount of food we eat
Foods rich in protein have the greatest nutritional value. This means that an egg ham breakfast will save us for longer than honey or jam pancakes, although both dishes can have the same calorie value.
High fat diets have a higher nutritional value than high carbohydrate diets.
Another factor that determines food as a satiety or not is how large the food itself is. The more ‘voluminous foods’ stretch the stomach and the small intestine, creating a feeling of satiety, making the hypothalamus pleased.
Drinks, for example, are less sour from pasta and soups. For example, if you eat a few grapes, you will feel more fed than if you drink a glass of grape juice.
Signs that provoke appetite
While hunger is caused by the physiological needs of the body, appetite is the result of our mood and the environment that surrounds us.
The factors that most influence our appetite are
- the sense of smell,
- our habits (when we are on holiday we tend to eat more when we are at the cinema eating popcorn),
- our social
- cultural habits..
Example: Food stimulates our five senses. The food, which is prepared and presented in an attractive way and has a glamorous aroma, attracts us much more than the ordinary beans in a metal bowl.
Example: Whenever we are on holiday, we allow ourselves to pamper with something delicious and often overdo with food. We associate every holiday with abundant meals and delicious food, welcoming guests inevitably with specially prepared food. All of these factors stimulate our appetite and this allows us to eat more than we need.