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What to Eat When You Don’t Have an Appetite

In a culture as image-obsessed as ours, appetite can be a tricky thing. It tells us when we’re low on energy and need to refuel, but for many people, appetite is the enemy. With so much pressure to lose weight in the U.S., it can be easy to forget that this impulse is necessary for our very survival. This fact is especially true for those who are sick, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or fighting the effects of a wasting illness like AIDS. Unfortunately, the loss of appetite among these vulnerable patients can be so severe that, in some cases, it leads to complications like malnutrition, which can have a significant impact on the recovery and overall prognosis of the person in question. So, what should you eat to keep up your strength if you don’t have an appetite? To find out, keep reading as the people at ENU explain.

Causes and Effects of Appetite Loss

Because appetite can be affected by both physical changes and psychological issues, it can be quite difficult to nail down the exact cause of appetite loss in a particular patient, and generalizing about this condition is just as tough. In some cases, a lifestyle change may be to blame, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. If you’ve been dieting, you may experience a diminished appetite, especially if your diet has lasted a significant length of time. Events that cause anxiety can also impact your level of hunger; getting fired from your job or starting at a new company are both situations that cause stress, which in turn can affect appetite, and the onset of depression can do the same.

Many of the causes of appetite loss are indirect, meaning that they affect some other aspect of eating or digesting food, which in turn leads to the loss of appetite. For example, chemotherapy comes with a host of side effects — including mouth sores, nausea, changes in taste, fatigue, and diarrhea — that can all make a person less inclined to eat, if only because the act of consuming food becomes extremely unpleasant for those patients. Other illnesses and treatments can lead to similar appetite and weight management issues; if you recently started using a new medication or were diagnosed with a serious illness, that could be the reason why you’ve been less hungry.

While a loss of appetite may be welcomed by some as a convenient way to eat less and so lose weight, this condition has serious implications for the elderly or infirm. Food provides our bodies with the resources they need to keep running smoothly: the energy to move, the nutrients to create and support new cells, and the fuel that powers our brains. A healthy individual may have stores of these resources that can be relied on in lean times, or when their appetite falters; someone with an illness, however, can quickly burn through these reserves, so they require a consistent supply of calories, vitamins, and macronutrients to keep fighting their disease. Without them, a patient can become malnourished and weak — making things like liquid supplements for cancer patients into helpful support tools.

Eating Without an Appetite

If you’re not hungry but need to eat for the sake of medical nutrition support, it can be tough to find ways of getting the nutrients you need in a form that agrees with your system. One of the most effective ways to tackle this problem is to prioritize nutrient-dense, low-volume foods and drinks, such as quinoa, yogurt, or protein shakes for weight gain.

Keep in mind that while nutrition is, of course, important, so too is the need for calories. Treats like ice cream, milkshakes, and snack foods may be unhealthy in the traditional sense, but for someone in desperate need of calories, they can be incredibly beneficial. Cooking with fatty oils or adding lots of condiments can aid your efforts as well, and if you’re still having trouble finding foods that appeal to you, try turning to your favorite dishes or desserts.

Adapting to your lack of appetite can be helpful as well. Making lifestyle changes such as engaging in light exercise before a meal, eating with friends or family, or changing when you eat may prove effective; one especially helpful strategy is to break up your food intake into five or six small meals spaced throughout your day, rather than trying to force down two or three large meals.

If your loss of appetite is due to an illness or treatment, speak to your doctor or dietician for suggestions on how to better cope with your situation. They may even be able to change your medication or alter your treatment schedule to help alleviate your appetite issues and make it easier to eat on a regular basis.

Balanced, Convenient Nutritional Shakes Available from ENU

If you or someone you know is suffering from a loss of appetite and needs an easy and effective way to get nourishment, the meal replacement shakes from ENU are a perfect option. Each carton contains 20 grams of protein from whey and soy to boost healing and preserve muscle mass, plus complex carbs for extended energy and heart-healthy fats derived from coconut and sunflower oils. ENU shakes also offer a blend of more than 20 key vitamins and minerals — not to mention 400 calories — to provide well-rounded nutrition in a tasty, convenient package. To learn more about ENU products and how they can help combat appetite loss, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733 today.

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