Appetite is the desire to fulfil a bodily need and can be divided into three components: hunger, satiation, and satiety. Hunger is the sensation that promotes food consumption, satiation is the sensation of fullness during eating that leads to meal termination, and satiety is the fullness that exists between eating occasions.
Appetite regulation is complex and not completely understood. It has control systems linking the brain, digestive, endocrine, and sensory nerves. These systems govern appetite both in the short term and the long term.
- In the short term, appetite is mostly controlled by gut sensors that respond to either the physical presence or absence of food. These gut sensors also respond to different components of the food, such as fat or protein. Different hormones are released before, during, and after eating, controlling feeding behaviour and how much is eaten.
- In the long term, the appetite may be controlled by the body's composition.
There could be many causes as to why one has a poor appetite and does not feel hungry.
- Infections can cause a person to feel less hungry and have a poor appetite.
- Some illnesses such as fever, irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, cancer, hepatitis, HIV, etc., can also cause a poor appetite.
- Psychological factors like mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc
- Certain medications have hunger-suppressing side effects that can lead to a poor appetite.
- Genetics also affects the appetite of a person.
So, now that we know the causes of a poor appetite; let’s look at the things that can help with a poor appetite.
- Aim for 5-6 meals a day, which will include 3 major meals and 2 or 3 snacks. Take advantage of the time of day when you are most hungry.
- You can place the bowls of nutritional snacks, such as sprouts, makhaana, and fruits in frequently used areas of the house, to encourage healthy snacking between meals.
- Always avoid skipping breakfast, as it kickstarts the metabolism. Regularly skipping breakfast can also cause hormonal changes.
- Have foods rich in zinc like red meat, poultry, beans, mushrooms, etc. Zinc helps in stimulating appetite.
- You can use a large plate and put small portions on it.
- Stay well hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- If the taste of the food leads to decreased appetite, change the food's flavor, such as adding lemon, tamarind, spices, and herbs such as oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, etc. Select foods that you enjoy eating.
- Eat protein-rich foods like lentils, beans, eggs, meat, fish, etc.
- Perk up the taste and smell of food with seasonings or spices such as lemon juice, mint, basil, and other herbs.
- Eat your food slowly so that the intestinal transit time is slow. That will help in a better movement of food in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Drink liquids one hour before or after meals (not during meals). Liquids quickly fill the stomach and make you feel full. This prevents you from eating enough.
- Sit up for at least 30 minutes after eating, it helps digest food better.
- Exercise more as it will help to trigger the appetite. Exercising before meals can also stimulate the appetite. Even a short walk may be refreshing.
- Manage your stress levels as psychological changes can cause appetite changes. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to a reduced appetite. Meditation, exercising, listening to music, or doing something you love can help reduce stress.
It can get a little hard when trying to fix the appetite and stimulate hunger. But, always make gradual changes and not rush into the process. Making gradual changes that you can follow easily for the rest of your life is more important here. These tips will help you fix your appetite and lead a healthy life. Reach out to us, and we can help you find out the root cause of your poor appetite and plan an action to help you with it.