Every part of the body needs specific nutrients for better health and energy to carry out daily activities. Eating of food is the essential activity that starts the complex processes involved to carry out these tasks. However, for most of us the lack of desire for eating food is something we have at one point or another experienced.
This condition is described as loss of appetite or anorexia. The opposite of it, namely an increase in appetite, is also true and is termed polyphagia. Some of the factors that may be responsible for a loss of appetite include:
- Abdominal distension
- Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
A loss of appetite puts an individual at risk of losing weight. This is because the person fails to meet the recommended nutrient intake that is required by the body in a day. As a result of this, a condition by the name of anorexia cachexia is likely to occur in a such an individual.
What is Anorexia Cachexia
Anorexia cachexia is the loss of weight as a result of an inadequate intake of the nutrients. Anorexia implies that the hunger is absent and the person get satiety (a feeling of fullness) after eating small portions of food or when they just see food. Beyond the expected reduction in weight, this condition also sets precedence for the likelihood of some nutrient deficiencies to occur.
As we go deeper let us discuss the main regulators of the appetite in our body. The hypothalamus is the organ in our brains that is involved in regulating appetite and also metabolism. The lateral hypothalamus or feeding centre is the part in the brain that induces feeding. Should it get damaged, this affects the appetite of an individual.
Anorexia can either be acute or chronic. Acute anorexia is mainly caused by infections, pain, oral disorders or environmental causes. The chronic disorder is associated with anorexia that has been present for extended periods.
Tackling Low Appetite
Some of the things that can be done to bring back appetite include:
1.Ensure that you consume food from all the major food groups. By doing this you first ensure that you’re receiving sufficient nutrient intake for your body and second, that you are able to vary the taste of the foods you take thus promoting your appetite.
2.Take small food but frequent meals (at least after every 1-2 hours). This will enable you to meet the recommended nutrient intake that you need per day. Moreover, frequent food intake will likely increase your desire of eating.
Snack with fruits as they provide you with vitamins and minerals that are key in bringing back your appetite. You can also include high calorie and high protein snacks like milk, eggs or cakes to promote weight gain.
While doing this, it’s also good to identify at which meal time your appetite is highest so that you can take advantage by taking more food to compensate for times when your appetite is usually low.
3.When preparing and serving the meals make them appealing to all the senses by including different colours, tastes and pleasant aromas. Food that is inviting, both in appearance and aroma, is likewise pleasurable to eat and this is likely to increase one’s desire to eat. It’s called appetizing for a reason.
4.Environment is another factor to consider. When taking the food ensure you are in a conducive environment far from the anything that may disrupt the enjoyment of your food e.g. an off-putting smell in the place you’re eating at, distractive activities like watching TV, using your mobile phone to chat or play games etc.
5.Fluids are preferably to be taken in between the meals rather than together. This is because fluids may reduce the amount of food your eventually consume by taking some of its space. Drinking in between meals thus ensures you take a bit more food than you normally would had you consumed it together with a fluid.
6.Before taking food it’s advisable to perform some form of physical exercise like walking or jogging as these will increase your desire to eat.