Weight Loss
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Major loss of appetite - what to do?


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I think it may just be due to stress, but I'm not sure of the reason. Either way, for the past couple of weeks I've had very little appetite. I keep just doing whatever I'm doing until my stomach starts getting quite painful before I decide that I really ought to eat something to end the discomfort. This is definitely not the way things usually are for me: normally I love to taste things!

I've been spending a lot of time this week preparing healthful meals for myself and trying to make them look attractive so I will want to eat them, but I still have to force myself to put the food in my mouth, chew, and swallow. Even so, I'm only managing to get around 600 to 1000 calories per day. (The web site says I should be eating 2000, but I normally eat something between 1200 and 1500.)

Is this going to have a bad effect on my weight loss? Should I keep trying to make myself eat more? I have to admit it's tempting to think, "Hey, bigger deficit means my body has to burn more fat for fuel, so why shouldn't I skip lunch?"


In case it makes any difference for your answers, I'm 23, female, 5'9", and weighed over 300 lbs last time I checked. I don't have a scale in the house currently. I'm fairly sedentary at work and during class, but I walk about a mile on a hill to and from school a few times a week.

Any advice or information is much appreciated!

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borrow mine? Wink

If there's a reason, like being sick for your loss of appetite or a medication that you've recently changed or started, that would make sense to me.  Otherwise if you continue to have no appetite you should mention it next time you see your doctor.  If you have any other medical issues it's probably time to make an appointment.

Ideally you will eat a minimum of 1200 calories no matter what. For your height and weight and activity level that's still not enough about 1500 is a better number as a guess.  To find out a more exact number you'll want to use the tools on the site.  You want a deficit of 500-1000 calories per day to come up with roughly a 1-2 lb loss per week.

Having a calorie deficit over 1000 calories is a bad idea for several reasons:

  1. Even if you do have a lot of weight to lose and a lot of calories to eat, there's a diminishing return on a deficit.  For many people this seems to be around 700.  Over a 1,000 you may actually lose less weight or stall out (this happened to me) than if you had a 1,000 calorie deficit.  So essentially you're depriving yourself of food for no good reason.
  2. You need a certain amount of calories to be able to get a reasonably well balanced diet for nutrients.  It's very difficult and takes a lot more work when you don't eat enough, supplements simply are not as good as food.
  3. Assuming that the higher deficit does take off the pounds more quickly.  There's a theory that if you lose your weight at around 1% of your body per week (~1-2 lbs for the average person) that your body can adjust to the changes, including your skin a lot better.  You may have a lot of loose skin if you lose a lot of weight, but your skin may adapt better at a slower rate of loss.

Also, to get your calories in, try eating some more calorie dense foods such as nuts, cheese, avocados.

Hi,

I understand where you are coming from.  When I get hyper stressed I find it very difficult to eat, but a huge part of that is down to the fact that I feel I need to control something...and my diet is one thing that I can control.  I don't know whether this is the same for you...

The last time this happened to me I did lose quite a bit of weight until a certain point where the weight loss just stopped, and as soon as I started eating normally again, it all came back on and suddenly I was 20lbs heavier than I ever was! 

Use the tools on CC to determine how much you should be eating.  By my reckoning (using the stats you have given), even if you did no exercise you should be eating about 2000 calories to lose about 1lb a week.  I know that seems a lot of calories and 1lb a week doesn't seem like much weight, but trust me...it all adds up...and looking at that CC graph going down is a fantastic feeling!

To echo the above person, try getting your calories by eating and drinking the more calorie dense foods, then you won't have to struggle with portion size for the bit.  I've found nut butters to be great, and if you're having probs getting food down, you can always make a smoothie and add some :o)

I found myself in a similar situation last year, I had a complete loss of appetite due to stress. I had to force myself to eat. I distinctly remember one days intake- breakfast was a banana, lunch was a piece of toast, and supper was a cookie. On average I ate 400-500 calories daily for 2 weeks. I lost 13 pounds (5'6", went from 122 to 109). I was just in such a mental state that the thought of eating made me nauseous.

Thankfully it was short lived- as to whether I had any long term consequences from that time, I don't know. After my appetite returned, my weight gradually went up. Due to some really unfortunate eating habits, it went too far up, which is why I'm now a CC member!

Almonds and other nuts are a great bang for your buck- you don't have to eat many to get your calories up there. If you're concerned about whether you're getting adequate nutrition, maybe try a drink like Ensure or something similar.

Try to get your minimum recommended in, and maybe focus on how you can relieve the stress level, whether it be a hot bath & a good book, spending time with family/friends, or yoga/meditation, just to name a few things.

Good luck, stay healthy!

As long as you're eating nutritious foods & eating when you are hungry then I don't see why you should force yourself to eat. People on this forum are pretty obsessed with "have to"s and numbers. "Normal" people eat when they're hungry & don't when they're not. Bodies go through cycles.

That said, don't not eat just to make a deficit. Also realize that lack of appetite is a symptom of depression. If it continues & you find yourself in a bad place consider seeking medical advice or counseling.

I think you should try really hard to hit that 1200 mark - not out of any sort of "you'll screw up your metabolism" thing (though that's probably true), but for your mental health. 

Think about it - you're so stressed you're not eating.  But it's incredibly stressful to your body to be under-fueled.  So it becomes downward spiral of stress - you're stressed, so you don't eat, which makes your body stressed, so you don't eat... 

Try to eat some foods that are good for your brain - salmon, avocados, berries, tomatoes, stuff like that.   

Good luck, I hope you feel better soon.

Thanks for the replies, folks! I'm still mulling it all over a bit, but my husband said he would feel better if I ate more, so I got in about 1300 calories today.

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