Why haven’t I been hungry?

In this blog we will discuss some of the possible reasons if you have been wondering “Why Haven’t I been hungry?”

We will also discuss what you can do to improve your appetite. 

Why haven’t I been hungry?

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There are plenty of reasons why you might not have been hungry or why you might have lost your appetite. Some of these reasons include:

  • Physical factors like illnesses, chronic pain, pregnancy; 
  • Physiological factors like Anxiety, depression, stress. 
  • Medications
  • Ageing

When we talk about a loss of appetite, we are talking about when a person does not feel hungry and it often presents as having no urge to eat as well as experiencing no sensation of hunger. 

A person who has no appetite can also experience nausea at the thought of food or feel physically uncomfortable when they come across food as well as experience weight loss, tiredness, or nutritional deficiencies.

Some of the reasons why someone might experience a loss of appetite include:

Physical causes

Physical health conditions can affect appetite- this includes both chronic and short term illnesses which can either permanently and temorirarity decrease appetite.

Usually when the illness is treated and the symptoms resolve, the appetite returns however in the case that the loss of appetite lasts longer, it generally means that it can be a sign of an underlying condition.

Illness

Certain illnesses, like the common cold and other infections can cause a decrease in hunger levels. This could be because these illnesses reduce one’s sense of smell and taste which can make one lose appetite.

Medications that one takes during illnesses can also be responsible for the loss of appetite as well. 

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can lead to a decrease in hunger as well as a loss of appetite during the first trimester of pregnancy which is marked by food aversions due to nausea and morning sickness. 

Certain health conditions

There are some  health conditions that can cause you to feel less hungry. For example, when someone has slow metabolism rates due to kidney diseases, it can lead to one feeling less hungry. 

Other health conditions include:

  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • hypothyroidism
  • heart failure
  • certain cancers

Chronic pain

When a person has chronic pain or chronic health conditions, it can negatively impact both your physical and mental health and this inturn can impact your appetite. 

For example, some people experience appetite loss during menstruation which experts believe is due to the pain that one feels due to menstruation cramps as well as changes in hormones. 

Psychological causes

A person’s psychological health can also affect appetite. There are various psychological factors such as stress as well as disorders such as anxiety and depression that can lead to loss of appetite.

Anxiety

When you experience anxiety, your fight-or-flight response kicks in and causes the central nervous system to release certain stress hormones. 

Stress can cause nausea and indigestion which can make it very uncomfortable for a person to eat and ultimately interfere with their appetite or desire to eat.

Depression

Depression is another psychological factor that can decrease hunger and appetite leading to unintended weight loss.

According to Eleesha Lockett for Healthline, experts believe that this is because people who are depressed have shunted activities in the brain that monitor the physiological state of the body which can delay or reduce hunger signals. 

Stress

Another physiological factor that reduces appetite is stress. 

Stress can cause nausea and indigestion which can make it very uncomfortable for a person to eat and ultimately interfere with their appetite or desire to eat.

Acute stress that is sudden is more likely to lead to a sudden decrease in appetite and hunger as compared to chronic stress because acute stressors trigger one’s flight or fight response which leads to a decrease in appetite. 

Medications

Another reason why individuals might not want to eat could be because they are under medications which may reduce feelings of hunger, change a person’s sense of smell or taste, or cause nausea when they come across food. 

Loss of appetite can be one of the side effects of various medications and treatments such as:

  • antibiotics
  • strong pain relievers
  • antidepressants
  • sedatives
  • certain thyroid hormone medications
  • chemotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • radiation therapy (Eleesha Lockett, Healthline)

Ageing

It is commonly observed that when a person starts to get older- usually past the age of 50, they might start to experience a decrease in appetite. This can occur due to many reasons:

  • Age-related changes in hormones, the digestive system, as well as chronic illnesses and lowered metabolism
  • Psychosocial factors such as depression and loneliness 
  • Due to medications that can decrease appetite.
  • Lower energy needs due to which they do not have the need to eat more
  • Due to issues like dental health which makes eating uncomfortable
  • Deterroritating senses of taste and smell

The older people get the more likely it is that the meals that they are allowed to eat become more bland because of their health conditions which can decrease an individual’s motivation to eat. 

How to improve appetite?

Here are some things that you can do to improve your appetite.

According to Alicia Sparks Akers for Medical news today, eating together with friends and family can lead one to eat more as older research finds that people eat more when they eat with others compared to alone.  So, what you can do if you want to improve your appetite is to make meals a communicable thing where you eat with people that you like being around. 

Instead of eating the same old food that is unappetising, take effort to create tastier meals that can stimulate a person’s interest in eating. So try to make new recipes or try out new recipes that include a lot of colour and a lot of flavour. 

Try to eat calorie rich foods if you are experiencing a lot of weight loss due to lack of appetite such as healthy fats like avocado, sweet potato, nuts and nut butters, and olive oil.

You can also choose to meet a nutritionist to help you get back on track about your health and diet as well as to gain some guidance as to how you can go about improving your diet. 

Get some exercise which can help stimulate your appetite and make sure that you get adequate sleep. Taking good care of the sleep that you get and the exercise you are able to do is important to maintain not just your appetite but also your overall health.

You can also speak to your nutritionist about getting on some supplements that can help you with your vitamin requirements so as to prevent malnutrition and other health complications due to lack of appetite.

If you are noticing a lot of weight gain and loss of energy along with loss of appetite, it is advised that you meet with a doctor especially when you notice the following symptoms:

  • feeling full quickly after eating
  • nausea
  • bloating and indigestion
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • stomach pain
  • dark urine
  • blood in the stool
  • significant or unintentional weight loss

It could be possible that your weight loss has something to do with an underlying condition. 

If you notice that your loss of appetite is marked with symptoms of depression, seek out professional help to understand your condition as well as to get treatment for depression. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed some of the possible reasons if you have been wondering “Why Haven’t I been hungry?”

We also discussed what you can do to improve your appetite. 

FAQ related to “Why Haven’t I been hungry?”

What are the 3 types of hunger?

The 3 types of hunger include:

  • Physical or the medical necessity to eat to be able to function. 
  • Craving related to the senses also known as mouth hunger where you are not physically hungry but you still want to eat
  • Emotional hunger where your hunger is triggered through conditioning. For example, you get hungry when you smell something nice. 

What is the meaning of appetite?

Appetite refers to a yearning to fulfil a need for something such as food, drink, or other cravings. It refers to one’s desire to eat.

Is appetite the same as hunger?

No, appetite and hunger are two different constructs

Hunger is physiological and is a result of biological changes throughout the body, which serves as a signal that you need to eat to maintain energy levels. 

On the other hand, appetite is simply the desire to eat which can be due to hunger, or due to other triggers like craving and emotional triggers.

How do you cure loss of appetite?

One way you can deal with a loss of hunger is to consider focusing on eating frequent small meals along with light snacks in the middle of meals. 

You can also improve and stimulate your appetite with exercise or instead of eating the same old food that is unappetising, take effort to create tastier meals that can stimulate a person’s interest in eating. So try to make new recipes or try out new recipes that include a lot of colour and a lot of flavour. 

Which organ is responsible for appetite?

The hypothalamus is the organ that is responsible for the body’s system for regulating food intake and are the nerve cells that, when activated, produce the sensation of hunger.

References

Eleesha Lockett. Why Aren’t You Hungry? Causes and When to be Concerned. Healthline. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/why-am-i-not-hungry

Alicia Sparks Akers. Why am I never hungry? What to know. Medical News Today. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/why-am-i-never-hungry

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