Are You Hungry? Or Do You Have an Appetite? A Distinction with a Difference

This past week I was fascinated by an article titled, “The Starvation Study that Changed the World.”

What was the goal of the study?

“…to offer insight on how starvation (or in this case, “semi-starvation”) alters “the changes in motivation”

One of the most interesting takeaways, for me, was one of the most profound takeaways for the study’s volunteers.

In the words of the article:

“Semi-starvation had temporarily changed these men in many ways, but what seemed to linger long after was this inability to distinguish between the constant gnawing of hunger and normal appetite. Appetite is a question to be answered with a meal. Hunger is a need, an enduring hollowness that begs for satisfaction by any means necessary.”

As I thought about this, I began to consider how many ways we confuse hunger and appetite outside the realm of food.

Let’s look at exercise.

If you’re a runner, for example, the distance and route of your run will remain the same regardless of how you approach it.

The feeling you have about the run, however, will vary wildly if you are running for the joy of moving your body vs. because you feel you ‘need’ to—because a sense of hollowness of not-enough-ness is running (pun intended) the show.

We could also look at career choices.

First: I recognize people take jobs out of need—that is not the topic of this post.

What I am talking about is the sensation inside that causes someone with 2 very different career options—one which they desire to purse and another that they feel they ‘must’ pursue—to go with the one that satisfies ‘must’.

What is the hollowness inside that drives that choice? Is it a desire to fit in? Is it for approval? Adulation?

If you find this distinction interesting, the next time you have the sensation of doing something due to FONE (Fear of Not Enough-ness: a kissing cousin of FOMO—and yes, coined by me) ask yourself:

Do I have an appetite? Or am I just hungry?


For more fun with distinctions, look at “I Made a Mistake vs. I Made a Bad Decision”