We use the term appetite commonly nowadays.
It is a term that refers our desire to eat food.
But as we all know, there a number of things that can reduce your desire for eating.
Some of them are developmental stages of medical conditions, and some are just mood-related.
For example, some of us just do not want to eat after a bad breakup.
With that in mind, every now and then, appetite stimulants can help us regain our strength 1.
When you are not getting enough nutrients, you might need some appetite stimulants to get you back on track.
In some cases, people want to stimulate appetite due to lifestyle changes.
Table of Contents
Why you have low appetite?
We touched on the topic how some conditions can reduce your appetite 2.
Here are all of the common causes:
- Stress, depression, anxiety, and similar psychological disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis, GERD, and peptic ulcer disease
- Chronic diseases like Parkinson’s, COPD, and cystic fibrosis
- Chronic infections like HIV
- Medications like laxatives amphetamines, and chemotherapy
- Increasing age and slowed metabolism
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in activity level
Children and toddlers, can also experience lowered appetite due to food allergies, stress in the family, forced to eat too much, excessive intake of milk or juice between meals, genetic predisposition, eating alone, delayed introduced of solids past 9 months old, development desire for autonomy, not being exposed to a variety of foods at young age, unstructured mealtimes, highly variable practices in eating, and more.
Older adults as well can experience lower appetite due to age-specific conditions 3.
Those include dementia, decreased sense of smell, decreased sense of taste, difficulty obtaining food, difficulty preparing food, gastrointestinal changes, hormonal changes, and decreased energy expenditure 4.
Supplements for stimulating appetite
As mentioned at the beginning, in some cases, you might need appetite stimulants in order to consume more food.
Vitamins, minerals, and herbs can all play a role of appetite stimulants.
If you didn’t know, deficiency in this vital mineral will lead to changes in your taste and appetite 5.
Zinc supplement or multivitamin with zinc is safe for adults.
However, be sure to consult with a physician if you have any questions.
Never give zinc supplements to your children without consulting with a physician first.
The vitamin known as B1, is another one that can cause changes in appetite 6.
In addition, deficiency in thiamine can cause weight loss, increased resting energy expenditure, and changes in the rate you burn calories while resting.
Thiamine is safe for adults, but consult with a physician before giving it to your children.
Consuming extra fish oil can stimulate appetite.
Fish oil is safe for any adult that doesn’t have allergies to fish. But before giving fish oil, speak with a doctor.
Lifestyle changes to improve appetite
Consuming appetite stimulants is just one way to increase your daily consumption.
Another option is to make several lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes will help you improve your appetite, without any side effects of consuming medications.
- Regular exercise can help you increase hunger, as energy increases your energy expenditure
- Make your mealtime more enjoyable. Try eating with friends or family, or while watching your favorite TV show. If you are having a good time and enjoy a meal, you’ll eat more
- Make time for meals. Try splitting your food into five or six smaller meals each day, instead of three full meals
- Change your menu, and consume foods that you enjoy. That doesn’t mean eating pizza every day. But there must be healthy foods you enjoy consuming. Stick to them
- Consider drinking calories. For example, protein shakes, fruit smoothies, juice, and milk can help you up your calorie consumption
- If you struggle with low appetite, consider eating foods with less fiber, as fiber makes you feel full
Culinary changes to boost appetite
You can try and change some of your habits in the kitchen to improve your appetite.
You’ll be surprised there are many appetite stimulants in the kitchen.
Here are some ideas.
- Add seasoning to your food to stimulate appetite. Spices, herbs, and vinegar can pump up the flavor, and make the dish more enjoyable
- Mix up what you eat. You can eat soup and grilled chicken for breakfast, there is nothing wrong in that
- Up your fat consumption with nuts, avocado, olive oil, and similar ingredients that up your calorie consumption, but also your healthy fats consumption
How to improve appetite in toddlers and infants
Young children are the most challenging for appetite.
They present their own set of eating challenges.
If you are concerned that your child is not eating enough, try to work with his/her doctor.
They can help you identify the problem.
Here are some management strategies you can employ with a child that is not eating enough or is a picky eater.
- Offer smaller and more frequent meals
- Offer a variety of foods at a young age, starting at 6 months
- Practice family behavior modification. Stress in the family, as well as parental expectations, can affect children and their appetite. It is best to keep the stress away from them
- Bribes have negative impact on a child’s eating. Do not practice it
- Make mealtimes pleasant. Take interest in your child’s day, ask them questions about how they feel, and make meals more of a conversation therapy
- Don’t allow distractions such as phones, toys, and TV at the table
- Limit your toddler’s time at the table to maximum of 15 to 20 minutes
- Ensure your child is getting enough playtime and exercise
- Limit excessive snacking and drinking of juice between meals
How much calories you need per day?
Daily calorie requirements are different for each and every one of us.
Some of the factors affecting daily calorie consumption include:
- Genetic makeup
- Body type
- Resting metabolism
- Activity level
For a general understanding of how much calories you need, take a look at the table.
|Age Group||Daily calorie for female||Daily calorie for male|
|Toddlers (2-3 years old)||1000 – 1400||1000 – 1400|
|Children (4-12 years old)||1200 – 2200||1400 – 2400|
|Teenagers (13-18 years old)||1600 – 2400||2000 – 3200|
|Young adults (18-40 years old)||1800 – 2200||2600 – 3000|
|Adults (40-60 years old)||1800 – 2200||2200 – 2600|
|Elders (60+ years old)||1600 – 2000||2000 – 2400|