What Is Appetite? Definition and How to Increase It

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If you’ve ever felt like eating with or without feeling hungry, you’ve had cravings. Food cravings are important to your overall health, and a lack of it could be a sign of a health problem.

There are many factors that can lead to an increase or decrease in appetite. In addition, you can take steps to stimulate your appetite when it’s low, such as learning what to eat when you no longer have cravings.

What is appetite?

Food cravings are a person’s natural desire to eat food. It is different from hunger, which is the body’s response to not having enough food. A person may be hungry without an appetite, have a strong appetite without showing signs of hunger, or be hungry with cravings.


Although there are many signs to tell if a person has an appetite, the main one is the feeling of hunger. Hunger can manifest itself in many ways, including:

  • Appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Floating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach rumbling

While hunger is a physical sensation and manifests itself by the symptoms listed above, craving is an emotional and mental feeling that causes a strong desire for a particular type or taste of food. certain food.

Food cravings aren’t constant — it can change from day to day. For example. a person’s emotional state (such as feeling excited, stressed, or bored) or the availability of favorite foods (if there are few foods in your home to enjoy, you may not feel cravings for them) can affect that.

Meanwhile, loss of appetite can be caused by emotional stressors, medications, chronic illnesses or conditions, or even loss of smell or taste.

Factors affecting appetite

Food cravings can be affected by a number of factors:

  • Diet: What you eat and how often can affect your appetite. For example, a study from 2011 found that in obese men trying to lose weight, eating a high-protein diet improved appetite control and satiety. Findings from a 2016 study suggest that a low-carb diet is better for satiety than a low-fat diet.
  • Medical conditions: Several diseases can contribute to decreased appetite, namely bacterial and viral infections, cancer, and thyroid diseases. Diseases that cause loss of taste or smell can also reduce appetite.
  • Medicine: Certain medications can increase appetite and lead to weight gain, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diabetes medications like insulin.
  • Mental health: A person’s mood or emotional state can contribute to their desire to eat. Stress can cause a person to overeat or undereat. Certain mental health conditions, such as depression and some eating disorders, May also affect appetite.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women may experience an aversion to some foods and strong cravings for others. Feeling nauseous or constipated, both of which are common complaints during pregnancy, can reduce appetite.
  • Company: The people you eat with can affect your appetite and food choices. A 2015 review of 69 independent studies found that people tend to model the eating and choices of those around them.
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How to increase your appetite

If you’re losing weight and don’t have an appetite, it could be due to an illness, emotional problem, or a side effect of treatment. You know you need to eat more to gain weight back (or at least maintain your current weight), but you just don’t feel like eating anything.

You can try to force yourself to eat, but that can add to the stress of being sick. Here are some simple ways you can increase your appetite. This advice is also good for caregivers trying to help a loved one reduce cravings.

Stock up on favorite foods

You’ll find it much easier to eat something you really enjoy, so have some favorite snacks on hand. If you don’t want to go to the grocery store, consider grocery delivery or have a carer, family member, or friend pick some of your favorite foods and stock them in the fridge. your favorite food rack. eat.

Delivery services can make it easy for you to shop from home, and you can often get your food the same day you order it.

Eat snacks instead of main meals

The thought of a giant plate of food might make you feel nauseous, but a snack probably wouldn’t be so bad. So instead of forcing yourself to eat three big meals a day, nibble on six or seven snacks. Reach for high-protein soy snacks, which have been shown to improve appetite.

Choose energy-rich foods

Energy dense is another way of saying something is high in calories. If you can only eat occasional snacks or meals, you should choose foods that contain more calories so that you can meet your body’s daily calorie needs.

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Healthy high-energy foods include cheese, nuts or nut butters, avocados, and legumes. Add your favorite chopped or melted sauces, dressings, cheeses, butter or gravy to servings of potatoes, rice, or pasta to increase your calorie count.

Bring back the taste

Perhaps part of the problem is that you can’t taste your food, which can happen as a symptom of certain illnesses and even as part of the normal aging process. Add herbs and spices to your meals to enhance the flavor. Or perhaps a little Tabasco or sriracha sauce will do the trick. Salt also enhances flavor, but if you have high blood pressure you should talk to your doctor before adding more salt to your meals.

Make Meals Exciting

The relaxed, fun atmosphere makes eating and drinking more enjoyable. So arrange your best position and light a candle or two if you want, or dine with your favorite music playing in the background. Even better if you can enjoy the meal with friends or family members.

Drink water between meals

Drinking water just before and during meals can cut down on the amount of food you’ll eat due to fluid volume. You can enjoy your drink with your meal, but just take a few sips so you can focus on the food. Then drink water or suck on ice cubes between meals.

Change the texture

If you have trouble chewing or swallowing food, it can help alter the mechanics of your food. You can chop or mince raw meats and vegetables to make them easier to chew.

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Or you can add liquid and puree foods to make them easier to swallow. Consume liquids like soups and smoothies and eat soft foods like yogurt and ripe fruit. Changing the texture of food can increase cravings and increase feelings of fullness.

Drink liquid meals

If you don’t feel like eating, talk to your doctor about liquid meal replacement products like Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast. You can also make your own fruit and vegetable smoothies if you have a powerful blender. Add more calories to your smoothie with nut butter or protein powder.

Get some exercises

Physical activity releases chemicals in the brain that can improve your mood and stimulate your appetite. Walking for about an hour before eating can make the next meal a little more appealing.

A very good word

It’s completely normal for you to experience a change in your appetite. There is a wide range of factors that can affect appetite, from your emotional or mental state to your physical health.

However, if you notice a sudden and unexpected change in your appetite, talk to your doctor. A rapidly increasing or decreasing appetite can be a sign of a mental or health condition that should be addressed with your doctor. If you’re taking any medications, it could also be a sign that your medication needs to be adjusted.

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