Q: Is it good to have a big appetite? I eat a lot and I feel I might be obese all my life.
A: In the first place, an appetite plays an important part in our daily nourishment, but it is not the only factor in charge of regulating whether you will become obese or not. We need to define clearly three concepts: hunger, appetite, and sensation of fullness.
Hunger is the desire and need to ingest foods that are essentially energetic, but hunger behaves in two different ways: after some hours of fast, the stomach suffers contractions causing slight pains which we recognize as hunger. The second way is to think, wish for or dream about food, even if it is not real hunger. That is, we can feel hunger in our stomach or in our mind.
Fullness is a sensation of physical and psychological satisfaction, that is filling full after eating. This happens between 20 and 30 minutes after you started eating.
Appetite is the desire to eat some particular food, which could be nutritious or not.
The appetite of each person is acquired by cultural nutritional models, by tastes and by the presentation of the foods to take. It is acquired throughout life. We develop progressively a nutrition and nutritional mind, together with diet habits.
It is important, therefore, to clarify that hunger is a physiological survival need while appetite is a learned attitude modified by the sociocultural environment.
The most important thing to avoid obesity is not to modify the appetite, but to improve diet abits. That is, to be in control of the quality and quantity of foods you consume.
The control depends exclusively on you, because you will have to modify your lifestyle.
Here are some recommendations:
1. Keep a diet balance good for your age, under the advice of a nutritionist
2. Do not eat while you watch TV. It is demonstrated that if you do it, you increase the desire to eat without being hungry and you will lose control of what you eat.
3. Chew your food well, slowly because that helps you to savor your food and also to improve digestion and the sensation of fullness.
4. Place the fork or the spoon on the table rather than in your hand, while you still have food in your mouth. That will help you to take time and to learn when you are already satisfied.
5. If you feel hungry in between meals, avoid taking high calorie foods. Try to eat fruit or light foods.