Hunger vs Appetite

I never knew there was a difference between the two – but it has been brought home to me in a very obvious way.


Hunger is that rumbling, growling and sometimes small cramps in your stomach, sometimes feels as if there is a creature down there having a tantrum.   That is my tummy saying to me “Hey you, it’s time to send food down because I’m starving and need fuel.  Yes, I know you have fat stored up to use, that isn’t my department; I am only interested in what comes down the throat.  If you don’t feed me, there will be a headache, light headedness, etc. coming along soon.  So hop to it!”.

That is definitely easy to  solve; since I enjoy eating, it doesn’t take much to satisfy the hunger pangs.  I read where it takes 20 minutes for the food to make it to the stomach after I eat it.  These days, I don’t eat as much because I have a smaller capacity.  Now if my body would just reflect that smaller capacity.

Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I go back to bed and find I have hunger pangs – not sure why.  I never know if they will just subside so I can go back to sleep or if they will keep on until I get up and have a banana.  After the banana I am able to go back to sleep.

Then there is appetite – that is at the base of my skull and has nothing to do with hunger and feeding the body.  It all has to do with the “I wants”.  the first time I was on 15 mg of prednisone, I  didn’t know about appetite.  I just knew I was feeling better and I wanted to eat everything in sight.  There were not enough hours in the day to eat all I wanted to – it took so long to be hungry again so I could eat.  My Dad introduced me to Chicken McNuggets – oh brother!  I remember  one night about 3 in the morning when I had such a craving for them – it was a good things Eddie was home because if I had been alone, I would have gone out to buy some.  I didn’t know what was going on, only that food tasted so good and I couldn’t believe how creative I was with it.  I also gained 35 pounds very quickly, – they are still with me today because they didn’t leave as fast as they arrived.

I finally learned that 15 mg of prednisone really stimulates my appetite and it was the reason I was eating everything.  Forewarned is forearmed, so 7 weeks ago when I had to go off my Methotrexate and Orencia, I had about 3 weeks before the flare up arrived.  I talked to my rheumatologist about how I could keep myself comfortable.  She recommended 15 mg. of prednisone and that’s what I did.  However, I was waiting and watching during the time and last week the munchies arrived.  Now I didn’t have any way to go out and it was hard  having the munchies while trying to be sensible.  It wasn’t easy and I found myself wanting to eat all the time.  It   At one point I had a blood orange to help – I figured fruit would be a lot better than cookies, chips, etc.  Not that we had much of those in the house then.

I was fidgety and stressed, trying not to eat.  It wasn’t eating a whole table full of food at once, like the picture above.   It was eating something here, something else a bit later, then remembering something else in the kitchen.  Or just wanting to eat for no reason except I want something.  One of the difficulties of the nose surgeries was not being able to wear my glasses very well: hard to read, work on the computer and anything else.  I would have gone for a walk up and down the sidewalk but I was concerned about tripping and falling.   Plus we have been having a lot of rain and cold, not conducive to having a walk.  Television is no help because they show food all the time and cooking shows just intensify everything.

Thursday I started  reducing my prednisone by half a pill – 2 1/2 instead 3.  Next Thursday I will go down another 1/2 to 2 – if I go off all at once, then I would be in big trouble.  Prednisone takes over the function of my adrenal glands and cutting it off abruptly is a major no-no.  I am noticing I have less munchies, but still eat a bit more than I need because I want it and it tastes so good.  I am glad to see it is not as much as it was, I hope to see the munches less and less.

Prednisone has taught me a lot about the difference between appetite and hunger; because of that first experience several years ago, I was able to anticipate and watch for the  side effects of the larger dose.  I’m glad I wasn’t unaware this time – I am learning all the time and putting that knowledge to better use now.

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3 Responses to “Hunger vs Appetite”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    Very good post, Liz. One thing that might help you in the middle of the night–drink some water. It tricks your tummy into thinking it’s full, and you can go back to sleep. (I’ve heard, too, that if you Think you’re hungry, drink some water and wait a while. It may take care of the hunger pangs.)

    So interesting about the prednisone! For years, doctors denied that it increased the appetite, but of course people who take it know better!! I take pred., also, but a much lower dose; like you, I’ve put on some weight but I’m not positive if it was the pred. or something else, though. I’d have to ask Laura to look back in my records, see when I started on it, and when I started gaining weight.

    I see our good weather has ended for a while….it’s raining up here tonight.

    Take care!! love, Char

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      Thank You for your compliment. I watch ads for drugs on tv and they have so many side effects, I wonder if it is smart to take it. Yes, it would be nice if doctors would be a little more forthcoming with things that might happen, without scaring us.

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      Thank You for your compliment. I watch ads for drugs on tv and they have so many side effects, I wonder if it is smart to take it. Yes, it would be nice if doctors would be a little more forthcoming with things that might happen, without scaring us.

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