In the 21st century, many people are concerned about their weight and health. They work to control their portion sizes and their amount of meals per day. They pay attention to the quality of food they choose and its effect on their bodies. However, there are also people, who have issues with their appetite, and this can be even more dangerous than overeating. It turns out that “I don’t eat enough” issue is quite common and can have its impact on your health. This article will help you to find answers to a number of questions. What causes loss of appetite? What are possible risks? What does one eat when you don’t feel like eating? Read on and find out the answers!
Why am I not hungry?
Hunger is a natural signal from your body that it lacks energy and needs fuel. Your body is constantly working and needs energy for each process. Your gut’s and brain’s work are two of the most fuel demanding processes that make you feel hungry. This is why decreased appetite is unnatural for you. It can be a consequence of some emotions, medications and even health issues. Below you will find a list of the most common causes of appetite loss (7, 9).
Any stress is a real challenge for your body. When it is under stress, your brain releases a number of chemicals that have their impact on your body. These chemicals include adrenalin, which increases your heart rate and slows down your digestion. As a result, you can experience decreased appetite. The good news is this effect is quite short-term. But if you are under stress for a long period of time, a hormone cortisol is released. This increases your hunger and can cause overeating, emotional eating and even weight gain (4).
Medications usually have a number of side effects, that may include loss of appetite. Muscle relaxants, antibiotics, medicines that fight high blood pressure, depression, Parkinson’s disease and some other medicines can lead to poor appetite. So, if you are taking medication and experience loss of appetite, consult your doctor to figure out the reason.
This is one of the most common mental health issues of the modern world. Its effects are unpredictable as it can influence people in different ways. Simply put, some people can face constant hunger and weight gain, while others suffer from loss of appetite and lose weight. People with severe depression can lose interest in food at all. So, if you experience changes in appetite along with changes in your mood, you should consult a health professional as soon as possible.
Flu or cold
When you get the flu or a cold, your body needs to make sure it will get necessary amounts of energy to fight the disease. That’s why it releases cytokines – special hormones – that cause decreased appetite and make you tired. Simply put, it is your body’s guarantee that you will rest and won’t spend energy on something else but on recovery. Remember that you still need to eat, even if you don’t want to. In this way you’ll support your body and especially your immune system.
There is a stereotype that pregnant women eat a lot, as they have to eat for two people. But many mamas-to-be (especially during the first trimester) experience nausea. As a result, they don’t feel like eating.
Some stomach disorders and other issues can cause loss of appetite as well. Gastrointestinal disorders cause bloating, stomach pain, nausea and more. Irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases are some of the most common disorders.
Your intestines or stomach can be also attacked by bacteria, virus or parasite. This condition is called gastroenteritis, and the symptoms are cramps, nausea and diarrhea. As a result, eating something is the last thing you need in such a condition.
People with such a health issue have low amounts of healthy red blood cells in their bodies. The main function of these cells is to carry oxygen throughout your body. Lack of red blood cells can make you feel tired and may lead to poor appetite. Talk to a health professional to figure out whether you have this condition and why. As a rule of thumb, such people are often recommended supplements to improve the situation (2, 3). Your health care team will help determine which specific supplement(s) will address your specific deficiency if that is determined to be the cause of your anemia.
As you age, you go through hormonal changes, may experience some health issues, and take some medication. All these factors may lower your appetite. Your digestion slows down as well, and you may feel full longer. This can decrease your appetite as well. In this case it’s also better to consult your doctor.
This medical condition can affect your desire to eat as well. When it isn’t treated properly, high levels of sugar in your blood can affect some nerves in your body. They include a nerve that is responsible for your stomach muscles. When it doesn’t function properly, the food isn’t digested the way it should. As a result, you can experience bloating and loss of appetite. This condition is known as gastroparesis and is treated with surgery, diet adjustments and/or medications.
This is quite a common issue, that can cause loss of appetite. Some people also experience nausea and even vomiting.
Poor appetite can be a side effect of cancer and its treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. This condition and the treatments often cause pain, dehydration and nausea (6).
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What to eat when you don’t want to eat?
You already know that loss of appetite is quite a common problem that has plenty of reasons. But what should you do when you are not hungry but need to eat? You should really be looking for foods which are rich in protein and high in calories. Lean meats, dairy, eggs, cereal and many other healthy foods will be a nice choice. Your menu is up to you, you can choose the foods that you like most of all. Anyway, below you can see a list of foods that will be good choices if you have decreased appetite. So, what to eat when you don’t feel like eating?
It is always recommended for people who suffer from diarrhea, nausea, and stomach discomfort because it is easy to digest. This is also a rich source of B vitamins, iron, manganese and magnesium. This superfood can support the health of your muscles, bones and nerves and decrease your risks of cardiovascular disease (8).
Hard boiled eggs
This will be a perfect option if you have a stomach upset. These are also a rich source of protein which is especially easy for your body to digest and use.
These are low-fiber fruits, that will help your body get numerous essential nutrients without worsening nausea. Potassium and magnesium, both of which are found in bananas, will help replace electrolytes which you’ve lost because of vomiting or diarrhea.
Such soups will be especially helpful for people who have a cold or flu. They go down easily and help to fight inflammation and make you feel better.
Sweet potatoes can be a nice option for an upset stomach, if you cook them well and without skin. The same goes for squash.
Smoothies and shakes
Drinking your calories and protein in liquid form can help you get in the nutrients you need without making you feel as full as eating a solid meal. Liquids move more quickly through the stomach to the intestines (where nutrients are absorbed).
Tips for you
- If you suffer from poor appetite, you should stimulate it. You can do it by eating small amounts of food more frequently.
- Make your dishes more “attractive”. They should look and smell good. This small trick can also help to stimulate your appetite. On the other hand, strong odors which are off-putting to you should be avoided.
- Avoid foods high in fermentable fiber such as cauliflower, broccoli, beans and some more until your appetite is Ok. They usually make you feel gassy.
- Use a bigger plate. In this way you’ll trick your brain and make it think you eat less food.
- Find some company. People tend to eat more when they enjoy their mealtime and share it with their closest family and friends.
- You can try working out. In this way you’ll rev up your metabolism, boost your appetite and lower your stress level. Make sure to consult a health professional before taking such a step and stick with lower-impact exercises at first as you figure out what you can tolerate.
- Try something new. New foods, dishes and even places where you eat can increase your appetite.
- Take advantage of the times you do feel good and eat calorie-dense and protein-rich foods then.
Why am I not hungry in the morning?
Many people have no appetite in the morning. The thing is that your metabolism can still “sleep”, even when you are already awake. It is best to eat something tasty and nutritious within the first few hours after you wake up. You can also “start” your metabolism by eating some nuts before your breakfast.
Why do I feel full when I have eaten very little?
If you feel full after eating very small amounts of food, that isn’t typical for you, you should consult your doctor. This issue is known as early satiety. You may also face nausea and vomiting. This condition can be caused by peptic ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). So, if you feel satiated when you have eaten too little food, it is better to talk to a healthcare professional (1, 5).
What if I don’t treat this issue?
If you experience loss of appetite because of some short term condition that you can identify and know will go away, you shouldn’t worry. You are likely to solve the problem on your own and recover in a short period of time. But if you don’t want to eat because of some more serious condition, the consequences might be dangerous. If you don’t treat your loss of appetite, it can lead to unhealthy weight loss, irritability, fatigue, increased heart rate and more. In some cases, people also face vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, which are dangerous for their lives. That’s why you should make a plan with your healthcare team.
So, what to eat when you don’t feel like eating? You already know the answer to this question. You should understand that your body is like a mechanism that needs fuel. Make everything possible to meet your nutritional needs. If you don’t want to eat, you should solve this problem so that your body systems can function properly. Make sure your diet is well-balanced and that you get all necessary nutrients. Take care of yourself and stay healthy.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 signs and symptoms not to ignore (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Anemia (2020, webmd.com)
- Anemia (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Can Stress Cause Weight Gain? (2016, webmd.com)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Loss of Appetite (2020, cancer.org)
- Reasons You’re Not Hungry (2020, webmd.com)
- Rice Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (2020, verywellfit.com)
- What causes a loss of appetite? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)