Why Am I Never Hungry? Why Can’t I Eat?

Written by: Arooj Paulus – B. Sc (Psychology)

Last updated date : October 11, 2022

Table of Contents Article title – Binge eating disorder
  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

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Hunger is a basic human need. Our bodies require food to fulfill our daily energy consumption. When we do not have sufficient food to digest and fulfill energy needs we feel hungry. It is a physiological reaction when we require food. On the other hand, some people have a concern regarding their hunger. You may ask your doctor questions such as why I am never hungry or why I can’t eat. Due to some bodily reasons, our bodies may not feel hungry. Let us read below the possible causes of this concern.

In this article, we will discuss the underlying causes of poor appetite or hunger. In the end, we have some suggestions for you on when to see a doctor.

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Chapter 1:
What Is Hunger and Why Do You Feel Hungry?

The need to eat is referred to as hunger. Hunger pains and an increased appetite are signs that the body needs more energy.

The amount of food we intake to fulfill our energy needs depends upon the following factors:

  • A part in the brain known as the “hypothalamus” controls your hunger.
  • When the sugar levels in the blood decrease, you feel hungry.
  • When the stomach and your intestines are empty it produces a feeling of pain and hunger.
  • Hormones also play a part in appetite so their change may also regulate your hunger.

Appetite and hunger are significantly influenced by the brain. Several cells in this part of the brain control the processes involved in appetite and the sense of hunger. The brain cells also play a major role in the release of hormones that control the changes in your feelings of hunger.

Your stomach may feel empty and hurting, and your appetite may grow when you are hungry. For instance, when you have a slight stomach ache, it is a hint that you should eat something. You could even hear your gut growling if you feel really hungry. Along with hunger, some people may also feel weak, lightheaded, dizzy, confused, or irritated.

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Chapter 2:
Why Am I Never Hungry?

Hunger is a basic human need since every living creature needs food to be alive and have energy. However, due to some reasons, you may not be feeling hungry. Let us discuss what could be the reasons behind your lack of appetite and why can’t you eat.

Stress

When we feel pressured or threatened, we respond by becoming stressed. It typically occurs when we are in a precarious position when we think that things are out of our control. One of the physical effects of stress is changes in appetite. It depends on personal tendencies, it may make a person eat more or less. For instance, people usually do not feel hungry or simply can’t eat when they are tense.

Hence when a person is under stress, the adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys, receive signals from the brain cells to produce the hormone epinephrine which suppresses hunger. Research shows that various forms of stress affect your appetite temporarily which can further lead to complications.

Anxiety

When we feel uncertain and fear about anything we feel anxiety. It has physical effects such as a person going into a state of flight-or-fight. It includes increased heart rate and breathing and an overall alert state. Furthermore, the brain produces stress hormones, due to which you may have a lack of hunger and slow digestion. People with anxiety also suffer nausea that affects their hunger and food intake as well.

Depression

It is a mood condition. Many people concur that they do not feel hungry when they are sad. So it is also a sign if you have a constant sad mood, you should see a doctor as it is affecting both your mental and body health.

Case studies of people with depression show that loss of hunger is a common symptom in them. Further, it was investigated in the research that the brain parts which are involved in hunger are less active as compared to people who do not have depression.

Illness

When your body is sick, you may not feel like eating. Some health issues, such as the common cold, flu, or viral infections, might make people feel less hungry. They also cause you to vomit or feel nausea which can also suppress your hunger. In addition, blocked nasal passages may make to less sensitive to smells so you do not enjoy your meals. These factors all together contribute to why you do not feel hungry.

Further, You may not feel hungry due to a few different underlying health issues. There may be a decrease in hunger as a result of some illnesses that cause your digestion to slow down. These might include the following, but you should see a doctor right away to find out why you aren’t as hungry.

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart issues
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems etc.

Severe Pain

Any form of pain affects your health. Severe pain causes your body to feel less hungry such as in conditions like arthritis etc. Likewise, pain during menstruation and hormonal changes may also cause a lack of hunger temporarily.

Pregnancy

Pregnant females also experience a lack of hunger due to hormonal changes, nausea, food aversions, heartburn, etc. These effects make it difficult to enjoy their food.

Medicines

Some medications, such as antibiotics, hypertensive medications, sleep aids, etc., also reduce your hunger. These drugs can reduce your hunger, but they can also induce other side effects, such as nausea. Some other treatments such as chemotherapy also reduce hunger.

Age

Research suggests that around 15% to 30% of elderly people suffer from less hunger. Factors responsible for their lack of hunger include

  • Their energy needs and digestion are less.
  • Changes in hormones.
  • They have a reduced sense of taste and smell.
  • Decreased salivary flow.
  • They have poor dental health
  • And may have chronic illnesses such as diabetes or arthritis etc.

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Chapter 3:
When to See a Doctor?

Not having a healthy food intake may pose serious health concerns. Therefore consult or visit a doctor when you notice the following signs. A doctor will be able to identify the cause that is posing a threat to your health.

  • If you are skipping most of your meals because you do not feel hungry.
  • If you have a major weight loss.
  • If you are having difficulty swallowing food.
  • If you feel vomit after eating.

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Chapter 4:
Call to Action

You can read “Guilt after Eating: How to Deal with Food Guilt?” under the section on food at Epsychonline. To help learn about food guilt, its causes, and how to manage them.

Further, you can enroll in the “Managing IBS” or “Chronic Pain” courses on our website. Fatigue and pain are common symptoms of anxiety that can reduce your hunger. Further, irritable bowel syndrome has symptoms such as constipation or stomach pain which can make you less hungry. The mentioned courses will help you to cope with your hunger and related issues.

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How to stop binge eating? Learn about evidence based scientific

72 Lessons

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  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

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