Hungry but No Appetite

Also called a loss of appetite, a decreased appetite means you do not have a desire to eat much. This may happen because of a number of underlying conditions, ranging from physical illnesses to mental conditions. When you do not want to eat much, you may experience other related symptoms as well, such as malnutrition and quick weight loss. If left untreated, you may have to deal with serious consequences. It is therefore important to talk to your doctor and identify the reason behind you being hungry but no appetite.

Why Are You Hungry but Have No Appetite?

It is quite natural to feel hungry and have a desire to eat something when you have not eaten anything for extended hours. However, a number of conditions may make you feel hungry but have no appetite. For instance:

  • Bacteria and Viruses: A viral or bacterial infection can affect your appetite. If your loss of appetite is due to an infection, you may also have other associated symptoms, such as tiredness, coughing, and sneezing. These infections usually resolve within a few weeks, and your appetite will then become normal again.
  • Psychological Causes: Elderly people tend to lose their appetites when they become bored of life. Stress can also lead to a decreased appetite. Some people develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa that make them eat less to lose weight quickly.
  • Physical Causes: You may lose your appetite when you have certain medical conditions such as hepatitis, chronic liver disease, dementia, HIV, or hypothyroidism. Rarely, cancer is the underlying cause of a reduced appetite, especially if it is in your stomach, colon, pancreas, or ovaries.
  • Medicines: Certain medications can have a negative impact on your appetite. The same holds true with street drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. Prescribed medications such as codeine, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and morphine can also reduce your appetite.

How to Deal with Loss of Appetite

It is natural to feel concerned about hungry but no appetite, but you can find ways to deal with the situation. 

1. Identify the Underlying Causes

The best way to resolve the issue is to identify the underlying causes first. Loss of appetite is usually a symptom of another condition. You may want to take antibiotics if you are experiencing the problem due to bacterial infections. If grief, stress, heartbreak, failure, or other emotional problems are at play, managing them better may help bring your appetite back to normal. Trying relaxation techniques such as meditation, massage, yoga, or exercise may help reduce stress and make you feel better again.

You may want to talk to a doctor or counselor when emotional factors are persistent. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to work with you and identify what is causing problem in your case. It is important to seek medical help because poor appetite can cause malnutrition that may result in severe weight loss. Your doctor may prescribe dietary supplements or even consider supplying nutrients intravenously to help prevent complications.

2. Regain Your Appetite

Hungry but no appetite is a condition that you must pay attention to. Along with identifying the underlying cause and treating it, you can try other ways to regain your appetite. For instance:

  • Try Zinc Supplements: Taking these supplements may help improve your appetite overtime. You are more likely to deal with poor appetite when your body lacks zinc. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start taking zinc supplements.
  • Check Your Eating Habits: Stop having three large meals, and instead eat smaller meals more frequently. Just be sure to count the calories and know the nutritional value of whatever you are eating. Some good choices include a bowl of veggie soup, whole-grain crackers and cheese, a bowl of yogurt with some whole-wheat toast, a fruit smoothie, or even whole-grain cereal and milk.
  • Check Your Medications: If you have lost your appetite after starting a new medication, you may want to talk to your doctor about it. Inform them about the change especially when you are also experiencing taste problems.
  • Drink Fluids: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep dehydration at bay. Your goal should be to drink at least 6-8 glasses (8oz) of water a day. Be sure to ask your doctor in case you have an underlying condition that requires you to limit fluid intake.
  • Spend Time with Family: Consider eating with friends or family instead of eating alone. When you are alone, you may not feel like spending so much time to prepare a proper meal. Inviting a friend for dinner may encourage you to prepare something better that you enjoy eating.
  • Change Your Lifestyle: You may have to change your lifestyle a bit to keep boredom out of it. This really helps when boredom is affecting your appetite negatively. You may also want to change your menu and have something different. Use your cookbook to make something new or swap recipes with neighbors.
  • Try Stimulants: You can always have good natural appetite stimulants to regain your appetite and resolve the issue of being hungry but no appetite. Some healthy choices include centaury, ginger root, rooibos tea, and gentian. Rooibos tea is especially beneficial because of its powerful antioxidant properties and high levels of flavonoids.

It is important to bear in mind that you tend to experience malnutrition when you have no appetite. You can always prevent any such complications by blending or juicing a mix of veggies and fruits. Similarly, drinking blending beverages provides you with a good amount of fiber. Cabbage and broccoli are some great choices, especially with spinach added to the mix to get more iron.