Appetite is generally defined as a desire to eat. It is the one human emotional state that is quite vulnerable to many things. It is also an activity that we spend a substantial amount of time trying to control whether it’s for the purpose of weight gain or weight loss. We bombard our children with this obsession, always harassing them about eating and being overly concerned when they don’t eat or show signs of having an appetite when we think that they should. One must wonder if it is this obsession that has triggered the increased obesity rates now plaguing Americans. After all, we must admit that our contradictory response to this emotion has played a huge role.
Take for instance how we deal with our children’s eating habits. We essentially train them to be obsessed with maintaining a “healthy appetite,” telling them to eat, eat, then eat again despite their persistent protests and often very convincing rebuttals. Meanwhile, as adults we have made diet corporations a multi-million dollar industry by spending ridiculous amounts of money on appetite suppressant pills and diet meal snacks that sell us the fantastical promise of a miracle remedy for appetite curbing. The fact is, we haven’t yet decided whether appetite is an angel or a demon. Nonetheless, despite our indecisiveness, from moods to weather there are many things that seemingly impact our appetite outside of our own mental discord about the matter. Let’s examine a few.
1. Cold weather – causes the appetite to increase as the body needs the energy from food to warm it.
2. Exercise – results in decreased appetite immediately following the activity because exercise causes glucose levels remain steady.
3. Illnesses – like fevers, physical stress and trauma decrease appetite.
4. Prescription drugs – like antidepressants, allergy medications and steroids increase appetite while cancer treatment, antibiotics, blood pressure & cholesterol lowering medications decrease appetite.
5. Laughter – increases appetite because it causes leptin to decrease and ghrelin to increase.
6. Sleep deprivation – increases appetite and has same impact on leptin and ghrelin levels in the same manner as laughter.
7. Moods – such as stress increase appetite in some. On the other hand, depression may increase and decrease appetite while anxiety increases appetite.
8. Alcohol – in excess is an appetite suppressant and in moderation may increase appetite.
9. Colors- like blue food are an appetite suppressant. In fact, our ancestors saw food color as a warning that certain foods were lethal.
10. Caffeine – increases the appetite for sweets and fatty foods because it increases blood sugar and stress hormones.
11. Smoking – causes lack of appetite.
12. Dieting – increases appetite because it causes preoccupation with food.