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What Triggers Hunger?

By Yona Williams    6/8/06

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The sensation of hunger is associated with the need or intense desire for food. It goes beyond what is considered as being a “normal” appetite. There are various theories that deal with hunger and what triggers this feeling. Some feel that it is associated with the contracting of the stomach, while others believe that it is a direct effect of decreased blood glucose levels. Another thought pertaining to the feeling of hunger deals with the temperature of the body, where hunger increases when the body is cold. This would support the reason why people tend to eat more during the winter season.


Although biology may play a large role in the triggering of hunger, there are other factors that influence the way we feel about and crave food. One of these factors includes the hunger that is felt based on some of the habits we acquire and learn. Humans are “trained” to feel hungry due to the behaviors and patterns that are learned throughout life. For example, when the clock strikes noon, some people will feel an intense need to eat, just because it is the time associated with lunch. They may not even be hungry, but the pattern of eating lunch at this time triggers the need to eat.


The smell or taste of food may trigger hunger. Certain food advertisements boast that once you eat one, you can’t stop. This is true when a person tastes a little bit of something and develops a craving for more. The smell of your favorite food can also trigger hunger. If you enjoy strawberry ice cream and you smell fresh strawberries, you may crave a scoop on the double. Certain smells will trigger hunger only if they can be associated with something that you like. Another sense that will trigger hunger is sight. You may be watching television and see a commercial for a hamburger and automatically feel hungry for a burger, even if it is not the exact brand that was advertised. 


A variety of colors can trigger hunger. The most influential colors in terms of food are: red, orange, yellow and green. This is why you see popular restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King utilize these colors in their logos and advertising. The color blue is known to act as an appetite suppressant. 


When you wish to understand what triggers hunger, you should know that there are two types of hunger to consider. One is caused by physiological factors, while the other is focused on psychological variables. These two factors can affect one another, but eating is not the only way to satisfy these urges. That is why there are some who exhibit eating disorders because they believe that eating food will satisfy these cravings, mistaking them for hunger instead of an emotional response to their environment. Understanding these factors that trigger the need to eat can satisfy the body and mind in terms of food.


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