Difference Between Hunger and Appetite

Main Difference – Hunger vs Appetite

Hunger and appetite are desires related to food. Both prompt us to eat. However, there is a distinctive difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is a physical need caused by the chemical changes in your body. Appetite is a desire; it is a sensory or psychological reaction that stimulates an involuntary physiological response. Therefore, the main difference between hunger and appetite is that hunger is the need to eat, and appetite is the desire to eat.Difference Between Hunger and Appetite - infographic

What is Hunger

A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. It’s a physical reaction caused by the chemical changes in the body related to a naturally low level of glucose in the blood several hours after eating. Hunger is also an instinctive, protective mechanism that makes sure that your body gets the energy it requires to function properly. It is not easy to control hunger, and ignoring hunger can cause serious results. Hunger can cause dizziness, fatigue, and low blood sugar.

The feeling of hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need food. It can also send some singles such as rumbling of the stomach, which is known as hunger pangs.

Main Difference - Hunger vs Appetite

What is Appetite

Appetite is the natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food. It is a sensory or psychological reaction that stimulates an involuntary physiological response. In other words, if you see or smell a delicious, delectable food, your mouth will start salivating, your stomach will contract; you’ll practically taste the food and feel its texture. Even thinking about that food will elicit this response.

This is a conditioned response to food – a coordination between the brain and the stomach. But appetite is not an urgent need for food; it doesn’t cause you dizziness or fatigue since it is not a physical need like hunger. Thus, appetite can be controlled and ignored. If you learn to have control over your brain, this is not difficult at all.

Difference Between Hunger and Appetite

Difference Between Hunger and Appetite


Hunger is the need to eat.

Appetite is the desire to eat.

Physical vs Psychological

Hunger is a physical need.

Appetite is a sensory reaction to food.


Hunger cannot be ignored.

Appetite can be ignored.

Pain and Discomfort

Hunger will cause physical discomfort and pain.

Appetite doesn’t cause pain and discomfort.


Hunger can be characterized by gurgling, rumbling or growling in stomach, dizziness, headaches, nausea, etc.

Appetite may produce signs such as salivating and contraction in the stomach muscles. 

Image Courtesy:

“Awadhi prawns” By rovingI – Flickr via

 By Alberto Varela –via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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