Restoring a healthy appetite
We all loose interest in food from time to time - and this isn't always for
negative reasons. It's well known that falling in love can make all else pale
into insignificance, including food. But you've been eating poorly, whatever the
reason, it's important to restore your appetite to good
A hearty relish for food is one of life's great pleasures. It is also a
reassuring indicator of robust health. So, when you or someone who normally eats
well suddenly loses interest in their food, it is correct to be concerned.
The stimulus to eat is regulated by the appestat, a sensory area centered in
the hypothalamus. This part of the brain monitors factors that influence
appetite, such as glucose and other nutrient levels in the blood. It receives
signals from sensors in the stomach and sends out chemicals that activate or
suppress your appetite, depending on whatever it receives 'empty' or 'full'
Sometimes appetites malfunction, due to an inadequate
diet, ill health, or
emotional or hormonal factors. The wrong messages may be sent to the body,
resulting in a loss of appetite, or conversely, an increase. A brief period of
poor appetite is rarely anything to worry about, but if symptoms persist for
over a week, a doctor should be consulted.
What effects your appetite?
Illness can diminish your interest in food - something as common as a cold or
an upset stomach can put you off for a day or two. More serious disorders such
as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, nausea or indigestion can cause
discomfort and pain, and this will often affect the desire to eat. In such
cases, light, regular, nutritious meals are preferable to rich, fatty, refined
and processed foods, which tax the digestion. Teas made with herbs and spices
such as peppermint, fennel, cinnamon, camomile and ginger can offer welcome
relief. And live natural yoghurt replenishes the intestinal flora of the
The emotional factor stress,
anxiety and depression may
result in a loss of appetite and erratic
eating habits. Just when they
need good, nutritious meals
to help them deal with stress, people experiencing emotional problems may lose
their enthusiasm for food. Eating little and often can help to revive interest.
Cigarettes, coffee and alcohol
all suppress appetite. They reduce the sense of taste and smell, give a
misleading 'full' message, and many undermine a healthy interest in food.
Prescribed drugs can cause appetite loss, especially if they have side effects
such as nausea. Stimulates and drugs may also increase your risk of nutritional
deficiencies, leading to a repetitive cycle of reduced energy levels and even
Tips to revive your appetite
If your appetite has been low for more than two weeks, boost your intake
of foods containing zinc, magnesium and potassium. You also need to eat foods
rich in vitamins B and C every day. These vitamins cannot be stored in the
body for long and levels need to be regularly replenished.
Try to eat five to six small meals - they are less daunting than large
ones - based on complex
carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, potatoes, rice and noodles. If
possible, ensure that you have
even if it's as simple as a smoothie and a piece of fruit such as a banana.
This is a good start, supplying the energy you will need to cope with the day
foods are a valuable part of your diet, if you haven't been eating heartily
for some time, you may find that they cause bloating and trapped wind. Try
eating them in smaller amounts until your appetite has improved. You can still
obtain easily digested fiber in foods such as mashed potatoes and other root
vegetables, vegetable soups, ripe bananas and rice.
Revive a poor appetite with small amounts of visually appealing, tempting
foods. Serve a spoonful of berry fruit with plain yoghurt, for example.
Early Chinese physicians prescribed alfalfa leaves to treat many digestive
disorders and poor appetite. This practice is also adopted by Ayurvedic
practitioners. Alfalfa can be found as sprouted seeds (you can easily sprout
your own) or as a herbal supplement.
Avoid Fizzy and sugary drinks, tea and coffee. Instead of drinking large
amounts of alcohol on its own, drink it with a meal and always keep to
recommended limits. Try to avoid sugary and
processed foods, as they
lack nutritional value and suppress the appetite.
Dietary foods to beat a poor appetite
Pottasium: eat foods with high levels of potassium, such as bananas,
potatoes, dried fruit, avocados, nuts, seeds and pulses.
Magesium: Foods rich in this mineral, including wholegrain, nuts, pulses,
dried figs and green vegetables
can help build a healthy appetite.
C: Eat vegetables,
fruit, wholegrain, nuts pulses, meat, poultry,
fish, eggs and dairy
foods every day to replenish your levels.
Pumpkin Seeds are a useful vegetarian source of
zinc, deficiencies of
which are known to reduce the appetite. Lean red meat, crab and other shellfish
have high zinc levels, as do sardines, game, poultry, rice pulses and nuts.