Why Am I Not Hungry

“Hot environments can suppress your appetite where cold environments can increase your appetite,” she says.

Why Do You Eat When You’re Not Hungry?

Stress

Long-term stress floods your body with cortisol, a hormone that plays a part in your fight or flight system. In order to refuel your body after a stressful encounter, cortisol makes you want to eat more. If stress is a near-constant state for you, those cortisol levels stay up and keep you reaching for the snacks.

Fatigue

Fatigue

2/10

When you don’t get enough rest, your levels of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you want to eat) go up. Meanwhile, your levels of leptin (a hormone that decreases hunger and the desire to eat) go down. These two hormones control feelings of hunger. The result: You feel hungry even if your body doesn’t need food.

Nerves

Nerves

3/10

Eating is a handy outlet for the extra energy that comes with feeling edgy. Not only does it give you something to do, it also distracts you from whatever’s making you nervous. Or you might manage your stress by not eating at all. This can slow your system down because your body thinks it’s starving. When you finally do eat, you’re more likely to overdo it.

Anxiety

Anxiety

4/10

Anxiety has a strong link with eating disorders. Binge eating can be a way to help manage your worries and stress. Other things, from genes, depression, and mood disorders to trauma, addiction, or abuse can make you more likely to binge as a way to manage your emotions.

Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure

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Not all emotional eating happens when you’re feeling down. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of a social event and ignore the signs that you’re no longer hungry, or to feel an obligation to go along with the group.

Alcohol

Alcohol

6/10

Booze lowers your inhibitions, and that includes good judgment about when and how much to eat. It also makes you more likely to eat less healthy things, like foods full of fats and sugar. Studies show that drinking affects the part of your brain that monitors self-control, making it much harder to resist a tasty snack.

Pictures of Food

Pictures of Food

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Sometimes all it takes is the power of suggestion to make you want to snack. Studies show advertising with food in it makes it more likely that you’ll grab whatever food you have on hand and chow down.

The Cost of Mindless Eating

The Cost of Mindless Eating

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Eating when you aren’t hungry can cause weight gain and other health issues like blood sugar problems. This unhealthy cycle won’t end unless you become aware of your cues and find other ways to respond to them.

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Do You Need to Eat?

Do You Need to Eat?

9/10

Real hunger hits you slowly, and it can be easy to postpone. You’re also more likely to feel satisfied from many options. Emotional or mindless eating comes on quickly and makes you crave specific foods. You may also respond to food availability and eat because the food is there. This makes you more likely to overeat — and feel guilty afterward, too.

How to Stop Mindless Eating

How to Stop Mindless Eating

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Find healthy outlets for your emotions, like exercise or meditation. Get together with friends who can support you in your quest to eat more mindfully. And keep junk food out of the house. That’ll make it easier to be healthy if you do eat your feelings.

Show Sources

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

Food & Nutrition: “Binge Eating Disorder: An Introduction to the Most Common Eating Disorder,” “The Vicious Cycle: Sleep, Stress and Diet.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Eating Frequency and Weight Loss,” “Why stress causes people to overeat.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “3 ways decreased sleep contributes to overeating.”

Mayo Clinic: “Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating.”

Health Psychology Research: “The Role of Anxiety in Binge Eating Behavior: A Critical Examination of Theory and Empirical Literature.”

Kids Health: “Emotional Eating.”

Health Psychology: “Alcohol’s acute effect on food intake is mediated by inhibitory control impairments,” “Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior.”

National Institutes of Health: “Diet Quality Worsens as Alcohol Intake Increases.”

Appetite Loss Could Be Nothing—or a Sign of Something Serious

Can’t get excited about meal time? Here’s what it could mean.

Why Am I Not Hungry

By Melissa Matthews Published: Sep 20, 2022

shot of an unhappy young businessman eating takeout at his desk in a modern office

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As anyone who has ever daydreamed about their post-workout meal during a long run or tough lifting session knows, meals can be motivating.

But some days, you just can’t muster up the hunger to eat even your favorite meal. Why is it that on some days you feel like you could eat anotherlunch and then some days you can barely make it through half a lunch? Does a lack of appetite signal that something else is up with your body? Or is it completely normal?

Well, hunger actually depends on a whole host of factors that may depend on what’s going on with you internally and externally.

Look, at the very least, a temporary loss of appetite is harmless. Maybe you just had a busy morning and you forgot to eat lunch until, um, 2:00 p.m. Or maybe you had a huge lunch and sitting down to another full meal doesn’t sound all that exciting. These types of brain-belly disconnections are common.

But then there’ the opposite end of the concern spectrum.

Bouts of lost appetite that are more than just a temporary annoyance could signal that you may have a medical condition, says Kacie Vavrek, R.D., at Ohio State University.

“Some of the main reasons [for appetite loss] are going to be more disease-related, like a cold or some GI issues,” Vavrek says.

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That said, certain medications and psychological can also cause loss of appetite. So, just to be safe, read up on these six reasons for appetite loss—and then determine if you can relate to any of them so much that it might be time to take yourself to the doctor.

And if everything seems a-okay, well, here’s to your next meal.

Can the common cold or infections cause hunger loss?

Yes—as if being sick isn’t bad enough.

Losing your appetite is common if you have a cold. This is why you sometimes lose weight when you’re sick—you simply just don’t want to eat. Your white blood cells release cytokines that help fight off infection, but these chemicals can also cause a loss of appetite.

Bacterial infections like pneumonia and strep can also lead to a dip in hunger. Of course, this subsides once you recover.

Can stress and anxiety cause hunger loss?

You often hear about people who “stress eat” their feelings, but sometimes anxiety can make you lose your appetite.

toss that garbage, guy

Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd

One reason is that stress causes your body to release a hormone called epinephrine, also dubbed adrenaline, which temporarily diminishes hunger, according to Harvard Health. However, this loss of appetite is usually short-lived. Persistent stress can cause your body to release cortisol, a hormone that revs up appetite.

Can medications cause hunger loss?

It’s no secret that medications come with a long list of potential side effects. Gastrointestinal issues, like nausea, stomach pain, or diarrhea, are commonly found on prescription warning labels.

And it goes without saying that these side effects can make you lose your appetite. Narcotics like codeine and morphine—as well as some antibiotics—are common appetite killers.

Can the weather affect hunger?

There’s a reason most people crave lighter foods like salad and fresh fruit in the summer. In fact, some people may feel like skipping meals completely when the temperatures rise, according to Vavrek.

athlete splashing himself with water from his water bottle after a hard morning run

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“Hot environments can suppress your appetite where cold environments can increase your appetite,” she says.

Your body produces heat when eating. If temperatures are unbearably warm, you’ll feel less inclined to dig into a meal and raise your own internal temperature, Vavrek explains.

Can I still be full enough from one meal to not be hungry for the next?

In fact, if you’re eating the right amount of two key nutrients at every meal, you may not even get that hungry between meals. Those key nutrients? Protein and fiber.

Experts agree that eating at least 30 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber at each meal will both help you fill up and not overeat during a meal and keep you feeling full until the next—whenever that may be.

If I never feel hungry, is that a bad sign?

Sometimes, lack of appetite may signal other medical issues including hypothyroidism, diabetes, or even cancer. Each will likely be present with other symptoms, but signs can be subtle. It’s important to see your doctor if food is always unappealing.

According to Vavrek, you should head to the doctor if you’ve lost weight or gone three to four days without an appetite. It’s important to determine whether an underlying medical condition is at the root of the problem.

You’ll also want to remedy the problem quickly because your body will use protein stores as energy, causing you to lose muscle mass.

“It’s very easy to lose muscle and hard to get it back,” she says.

Headshot of Melissa Matthews

Health Writer

Melissa Matthews is the Health Writer at Men’s Health, covering the latest in food, nutrition, and health.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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