Realizing that you have no desire to eat can be a scary experience. Whether you feel nauseous at the mere thought of food or nothing sounds appealing, a loss of appetite can mess up your daily routine. What’s even worse is that the longer you go without eating, the lower your blood sugar gets, leading to dizziness, motion sickness, and even vomiting.
If you’re asking yourself what to eat when you have no appetite, you’ve come to the right place. This article will take a deep dive into appetite loss, exploring the most common causes and how to tackle this problem. But first, let’s see if you should actually force yourself to eat even if you don’t feel like it.
Should I Force Myself to Eat If I Have No Appetite?
It’s important to understand that food gives your body the energy it needs to stay healthy. As a result, not eating for more than a few days can have devastating effects on your body. For instance, you’ll find it hard to focus, you’ll feel dizzy, and eventually, you’ll start losing weight.
Although you might find it impossible, you should force yourself to eat regardless of your appetite. That way, you give your body the fuel it needs to continue functioning as it should. Even a couple of snacks or liquid foods will be enough to keep you afloat while you try to overcome your loss of appetite. Just don’t try to eat too much, as you might end up vomiting.
10 Causes of No Appetite
Generally speaking, a lack of appetite can stem from a variety of physical and psychological causes. Understanding them is vital in order to determine how to handle this issue.
When under stress, your brain releases chemicals such as adrenalin, which increases your heart rate and slows down your digestion. Therefore, you’ll notice a short-term lack of appetite.
However, if your body is under stress for a long period of time, it will release cortisol. This hormone is responsible for hunger and may cause emotional eating and severe weight gain. So balancing your stress level is important to prevent both the loss of appetite and overeating.
Many medications can cause side effects, which could include loss of appetite. That’s often the case for antibiotics, muscle relaxants, high blood pressure medicine, and anti-depression pills. You should consult your doctor if you believe that medication is the cause of your appetite loss so they can adjust your dosage.
Depression is one of the most widespread mental health disorders. Since it affects people in different ways, it’s hard to tell if that’s why you have no appetite. While some people face constant hunger and weight gain, others experience weight loss and reduced appetite.
In fact, people who deal with severe depression might lose all interest in food. But if you notice negative changes in your appetite alongside your mood, it’s best to contact a healthcare professional.
Anemia is a condition in which people don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry the necessary amount of oxygen to the body’s tissues. A lack of red blood cells can make you feel tired and also reduce your appetite.
If you do suffer from anemia, a doctor will recommend you take supplements to improve your condition, which should also address your lack of appetite.
5. Cold or Flu
Whenever you get a cold or the flu, your body will use all of your energy in order to fight the disease. To do that, it releases special proteins called cytokines that make you tired and decrease your appetite.
That way, your body ensures that you will rest and won’t spend your leftover energy on anything else. But you should still eat to support your immune system in its battle with these infections.
6. Stomach Disorders
Stomach disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease can cause loss of appetite. Similarly, gastrointestinal disorders can lead to stomach pain, nausea, and bloating, which will affect your hunger.
Additionally, your stomach or intestines can be attacked by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, leading to a condition known as gastroenteritis. Common symptoms of this disorder include cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and a lack of appetite.
It goes without saying that pregnant women eat a lot, as they have to eat for two people. However, many soon-to-be-mothers experience nausea, particularly during the first trimester. Therefore, they might experience food aversion, which can last for multiple days. But remember that you still need to eat in order for your baby to develop in a healthy manner.
8. Diabetes and Gastroparesis
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body turns food into energy, usually resulting in high levels of sugar in your blood. When not treated properly, diabetes can affect multiple nerves, including one that is responsible for stomach muscles.
Sometimes, that can prevent the proper digestion of food, leaving you bloated and without an appetite. This condition is called Gastroparesis and can be treated with medications, diet adjustments, or surgery.
Appetite loss is very common among individuals with cancer. Sometimes, it is directly linked to the condition, particularly pancreatic, stomach, lung, and even ovarian cancer. Or, it can be a side effect of cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, appetite loss related to cancer can be quite hard to overcome and often requires professional help.
As you age, hormonal changes can trigger some health issues that often require medication. These factors could slow down your digestion and, as a result, lower your appetite.
In some rare cases, you won’t feel hungry anymore, as you may already feel full. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you find yourself unable to eat for more than a couple of days.
What to Eat When You Have No Appetite: 5 Choices
By now, you understand that loss of appetite is quite a common problem with plenty of causes. But what should you do next when you find yourself not hungry? Most experts recommend that you try to eat foods high in calories and rich in protein to help your body function as it should. Dairy, eggs, lean meats, and cereal are all nice choices.
However, some foods are easier to eat than others, especially when you have no appetite. Here are a few foods that you should eat, as they give you all the necessary nutrients without causing nausea or vomiting.
1. Smoothies and Shakes
Ingesting your protein and calories in liquid form will give your body the fuel it needs without making you feel as full as when eating a solid meal. That’s because liquids move very quickly through your stomach and are able to reach your intestines without causing nausea.
And, if you feel like there are not enough calories in your smoothies or shakes, you can always swirl in a few tablespoons of coconut milk.
Bananas are low-fiber fruits that doctors highly recommend for people dealing with no appetite. They contain potassium and magnesium, which help replace any electrolytes that you might have lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. And best of all, you can always add bananas to your smoothies if you struggle with chewing.
3. White Rice
White rice is easy to digest, making it perfect for people who suffer from nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. This meal is a rich source of iron, B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium. As a result, it will boost the health of your bones, muscles, and nerves while also reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Are you dealing with stomach problems, and food is making you nauseous? Then you should give hard-boiled eggs a try. Not only are they a rich source of protein, but hard-boiled eggs are also easy to cook and digest.
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Soylent is a line of meal replacement powders and drinks that contain soy protein as the main ingredient. Although you shouldn’t replace all your meals with Soylent, it can be a good way to get the necessary nutrients until you are able to get your appetite back.
Tips to Improve Your Appetite
At the end of the day, your ultimate goal is to get back to your old appetite. While seeking professional help is always the best course of action, there are other ways you can improve your appetite:
• Get plenty of rest.
• To stay hydrated, drink at least six glasses of water a day.
• Eat meals at scheduled times, even if you don’t feel hungry.
• Do some exercise before meals to stimulate your appetite.
• Select foods that have a pleasant aroma.
• Put small portions of food on a large plate so that the amount you have to eat will look less overwhelming.