The excitement of eating, cooking, or dining out is uncontainable for many of us. Of course, food is pivotal for survival, and everyone should look forward to eating. But this is not always the case. In the 21st century, more and more people are highly concerned about their health and weight. This has brought much attention to food and its role in life. In light of this, you should not be surprised to quickly find hundreds if not thousands of articles on healthy and clean eating, portion control, mindful eating, etc. That said, this overshadows the one percent of people who struggle with a decreased appetite. Losing one’s appetite for a short duration but not long term is natural. So, what do you do when you have long-term appetite loss? What are the causes and effects? Should you eat even if you do not feel like eating?
Why Don’t I Feel Like Eating?
It is common for some people not to feel hungry, especially in the morning. The running theory is that your metabolism at this time is perhaps still “asleep.” Even so, you are always advised never to skip breakfast, as it is the day’s most important meal.
However, some people do not feel hungry, even during lunch hour. In another case, others may feel full just after taking a few bites. These habits are not typical. Instead, they signal something more profound than you may be aware of.
So why am I not hungry? It could be due to one or more of the following reasons:
Stress is inevitable in our lives as it is a natural physical response. It is not always bad because it can increase your awareness and alertness to certain situations. However, for the majority of people, stress is a nightmare.
Short-term stress triggers your body to release adrenaline, slowing digestion and decreasing appetite. This means you may not feel like eating anything during this period. Conversely, long-term stress, which most people experience, has the opposite effect.
It triggers your body to release cortisol, a hormone that causes overeating. As a result, you may, with time, report some unwanted weight gain.
Unfortunately, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in today’s society. Its effects vary as it influences people differently. The underlying factor is that severe depression can lead to a loss of interest in food. That said, it would be best to talk to a professional if you experience a loss in appetite and other symptoms like changes in your mood.
Anemia is primarily characterized by a reduced count of red blood cells, crucial in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Attempting to engage in physical activity with a diminished number of blood cells can result in fatigue and a decreased appetite.
If you observe any of these symptoms or others that may suggest an underlying problem, BetterMe advises consulting with your doctor. It is essential not to self-prescribe supplements or medications, even if you display signs of anemia, without proper consultation.
One of the side effects of some medications like antibiotics, relaxants, and medicines used to treat depression and high blood pressure cause loss of appetite. With this in mind, do not blame yourself if you experience this when taking such medication. Instead, be sure to talk to your doctor if you need to change or stop using them in case of extreme loss of appetite.
A Cold or Flu
When you get the flu or cold, your body demands more energy to fight against these conditions. In the process, it releases cytokines. These are hormones that increase your fatigue levels and decrease your appetite.
Despite the decreased appetite, you still need to eat to provide your body with the energy it needs to perform different functions. Eating during this period is crucial to support and boost your immune system.
Some stomach issues, like gastrointestinal disorders, cause nausea, bloating, and stomach pain that may decrease your appetite. That is the same for other stomach disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
The last thing on your mind when you have stomach pain is eating. However, it would be best if you did not starve yourself to spite the pain. Talk to your doctor to determine the best meal plan or diet to follow during this period.
Poor diabetes management can lead to loss of appetite and bloating, a condition known as gastroparesis. However, it can be treated through proper diet adjustments, so you must eat even if you do not like it.
Some people with migraines often experience loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea.
The running theory is that pregnant women eat for two. However, for some, that’s debatable. Due to nausea, some pregnant women do not feel like eating, particularly in their first trimester. BetterMe recommends talking to your doctor if you are experiencing a loss of appetite due to nausea.
Poor appetite is one of the side effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. Additionally, some individuals also experience dehydration, nausea, and pain.
Hormonal changes associated with the natural aging process may lead to a decreased appetite. It would help if you talked to your doctor to determine the best way forward instead of taking matters into your own hands.
What Is The Best Thing To Eat When You Do Not Want To Eat?
Regardless of whether you are hungry or not, the fact remains that your body still requires food to perform daily processes like energy production. However, sometimes you lose your appetite due to health conditions like an upset stomach or cold.
This does not mean that you should not have your meals. Instead, consuming filling foods with high protein and calorie content would be best. Some considerations are lean meats, eggs, and dairy products.
You are not tied down to a specific diet plan. So, your menu is up to you. BetterMe recommends working with a licensed dietitian to craft your meal plan. Here are some gentle yet filling foods that you can eat when you are not in the mood for eating:
White rice is an excellent food option, especially if you experience nausea, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea because it is easy to digest. In addition, it is packed with B vitamins and minerals like selenium and iron. Adding it to your diet can improve bone and nerve health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Thanks to their long list of benefits, you can never go wrong with bananas. They are nutritious and pack your body with essential nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Secondly, they help manage symptoms like nausea, making them a perfect fruit choice for stomach problems.
These are perfect if you have an upset stomach. Additionally, they have high protein content that is easy to digest and use.
Well-cooked sweet potatoes are great food options whether or not you have an upset stomach. They are linked to increased satiety, hydration, and higher metabolism.
Smoothies and Shakes
Drinking shakes and smoothies are recommended, especially if you do not feel like eating because of a cold. These drinks allow you to get all the nutrients you need and make you feel as you would in a solid meal. Even so, you have to check in with your doctor. Following a liquid long-term or substituting it with your solid diet can have adverse health effects.
Broth soups are perfect if you have a cold or flu or want to sip on some tantalizing dish. They are soothing and also help with hydration. However, it is worth noting that they may not be as filling if they lack macronutrients such as complex carbohydrates.
Extra Dietary and Lifestyle Tips to Take Heed To
On paper, it sounds straightforward: eat even if you do not feel like it. However, getting even two spoons of food down can be challenging. Besides eating the mentioned foods above, you are also advised to:
- Eat small amounts of food frequently to avoid stimulating excessive hunger.
- Prepare “attractive” dishes that can somehow trick and stimulate your appetite.
- Keep away from foods rich in fermentable fiber, like cauliflower, to avoid gas.
- Try exercising to increase your metabolism and appetite, perhaps.
- Serve on a giant plate to trick your mind that you’ve eaten less.
- Try new and healthy dishes. They may intrigue you and increase your appetite.
- Take advantage of the times you feel good and eat protein and calorie-rich foods.
The Bottom Line
What can you eat when you do not feel like eating? For starters, you need to eat even when you are not in the mood for food to get fuel for daily activities. Then, of course, you need to consume healthy and filling foods that are high in protein and calorie counts. These foods should be easy to digest, especially if you have stomach issues. Some healthy food choices include bananas, sweet potatoes, smoothies, shakes, broth soups, and hard-boiled eggs. It would be best to talk to your doctor and dietitian to craft a nutritious and balanced meal that meets all your dietary requirements.