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Hunger, Fullness, and Appetite Signals

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Topic Overview

Listen to your body to tell you when you're hungry or full.

  • Hunger is a normal sensation that makes you want to eat. Your body tells your brain that your stomach is empty. This makes your stomach growl and gives you hunger pangs. Hunger makes some people feel lightheaded or grouchy. Everyone is different. Hunger is partly controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, your blood sugar (glucose) level, how empty your stomach and intestines are, and certain hormone levels in your body.
  • Fullness is a feeling of being satisfied. Your stomach tells your brain that it is full. Normally, this feeling causes you to stop eating and not think about food again for several hours. Fullness is partly controlled by the hypothalamus, your blood sugar, and having food in your stomach and intestines.
  • Appetite is a desire for food, usually after seeing, smelling, or thinking about food. Even after you feel full, your appetite can make you keep eating. It can also stop you from eating even though you are hungry. This might happen when you are sick or feeling stressed.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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