Loss of appetite occurs when you don’t have a desire to eat. Various factors can cause loss of appetite, including mental and physical illnesses. If your loss of appetite lasts for more than a few days, it may cause health issues such as weight loss or malnutrition.
Having no appetite is frustrating for anyone, especially those who are underweight and trying to gain weight. If your goal is to gain muscle and/or become stronger, you need to consume more calories as compared to what you are consuming now. If you have no appetite, this can be a very difficult task. So, here are 10 ways to increase your appetite.
1. Eat smaller meals
When you don’t have a healthy appetite, eating three regular meals can seem a challenging task. A more motivated diet is to divide the three main meals into five to six small meals. As your appetite improves, you can start to increase the size of these meals, or add some more ingredients to consume more calories throughout the day.
2. Eat nutritious food
People with a bad appetite tend to eat empty calories such as candies, French fries, ice cream, and baked goods to gain weight. Although these foods look more appetizing and contain a lot of calories, they provide very little nutrition, so they are a bad idea. Instead, focus on foods that provide you with calories and multiple nutrients (such as protein and healthy fats). For instance, you can eat 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt instead of dessert ice cream. Add some berries and cinnamon for sweetness.
3. Add more calories to your meals
Another way to increase appetite and ensure adequate intake during the day is to add more calories to the meal. One method is to cook food with calorie-dense ingredients, such as butter, nut butter, olive oil, or whole milk.
4. Make mealtime a pleasant social event
Cooking and eating with others may stimulate your appetite more than eating alone. Turning dining into a social and entertaining occasion may help you enjoy food more and increase your appetite.
5. Schedule a meal time & don’t skip breakfast
Hunger usually prompts people to eat. However, if you are not hungry, you may not be able to rely on your appetite to remind you when to eat. Setting meal reminders can help you increase your appetite and track your food intake.
Moreover, when you want to increase your appetite and gain weight, it is very important to eat a healthy breakfast every day.
6. Drink your calories
Compared to chewing food when you feel less hungry, drinking calories may be a more motivating way to increase your calorie intake. A practical way to drink calories is to replace some meals with nutritious, high-calorie beverages. Smoothies, milkshakes and juices are good meal replacements. Try to make them with nutrients such as fruits and vegetables. You can also add a good source of protein, such as whole milk, yogurt or protein powder, to get extra calories and nutrition.
7. Add healthy snacks
Eating large meals can be daunting, while small, easy-to-eat snacks can be more convenient and can reduce efforts to increase food intake. Snacks are also helpful when you are on the go. However, snacks are not meant to replace your meal, but to supplement them. So avoid eating snacks close to the meal time, because it will affect your appetite.
8. Use herbs and spices
Some foods delay digestion and produce gas, which can cause a feeling of “heavy stomach” and reduce appetite. A seasoning known as carminative herb and spice can help reduce bloating and flatulence, and improve appetite. They can also stimulate the production of bile to promote fat digestion. Some examples of such carminative herbs and spices are fennel, mint, black pepper, coriander, peppermint, ginger, and cinnamon. In addition to helping to reduce the feeling of “heavy stomach”, these herbs and spices can also make your meal more attractive. When your food has a pleasant smell and taste, it will trigger your appetite. Bitter tonic is another herbal preparation that can help increase appetite by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes. Examples of bitter tonics include gentian, blessed thistle, and centaury. You can add some of these herbs, spices, or bitterness to your diet through cooking, or you can consume them as a tea or tincture.
9. Workout more
During exercise, your body burns calories to maintain your energy level. Physical exercise can increase your appetite and replenish calories burned.
10 Limit drinks with meals
Drinking liquids before or during meals may negatively affect your appetite and make you eat less. Therefore, try to limit your water intake 30 minutes before meals to see if it helps improve your appetite.