Increasing your appetite can be a tricky business, especially if you find food unappealing or are struggling to gain weight. But don’t worry; there are many things you can try to train your body to eat more and to start enjoying food again. Here are some great suggestions for kick-starting a healthy appetite/ how to increase hunger naturally.
Changing your Eating Habits
Always eat breakfast. You’ve heard it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy balanced breakfast kick-starts your metabolism after a long night of not eating and gets your body ready for the day. Eating breakfast will give you more energy so you will be more active throughout the day, thus increasing your appetite further.
Some good options for healthy, balanced breakfasts include wholegrain cereals, yogurt, granola and fresh fruit, and healthy fruit smoothies.
If you’re trying to increase your calorie intake, try spreading some peanut butter on a slice of wholegrain bread or toast. It’s tasty and full of healthy fats.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Eating small, frequent meals rather than the usual thrice a day is a great way to build towards a healthy appetite. People with small appetites can often be turned off by the large portion sizes at regular mealtimes. Small meals, on the other hand, can be less daunting and less filling than large meals, while eating them frequently still allows you to consume the same amount of food overall.
Eating smaller meals can also help you to feel less bloated and sluggish after eating, which is the reason many people with small appetites don’t enjoy large meals. Try eating 4 to 6 small meals a day to avoid feeling overly full.
Don’t be afraid to break with convention and eat whenever it most appeals to you. If you prefer to eat your biggest meal in the morning rather than in the evening, go for it. If you prefer to break dinner time up into two smaller meals, that’s fine too.
Eat Healthy Snacks
Eating healthy snacks can help when you have trouble eating much food at mealtimes. The small quantities can be less daunting, while frequent snacking can help get you into the correct mindset when it comes to eating. Try putting small bowls of your favourite snacks in frequently used areas around the house, like the kitchen counter or living room coffee table, to encourage snacking throughout the day.
Choose foods which are high in healthy sugars and fats, such as bananas, avocados and nuts, tasty spreads and dips such as hummus or cream cheese, or salty treats such as popcorn and pretzels.
Just remember that snacks are not meant to be eaten instead of meals, but in addition to them. So avoid snacking too close to meals times, otherwise you might ruin your appetite.
Choose Your Favourite Foods
Eating more is easier when you eat foods that you actually enjoy. Put some time and preparation into buying and planning out meals and snacks that you like, that way you should never end up not eating just because there’s nothing in the house that appeals to you.
If you are currently under your ideal weight, you shouldn’t worry too much about sticking to a purely healthy diet. If you love chocolate cake or pizza, indulge yourself a little and allow yourself to eat your favourite sweet or savoury treats. However too much fatty food can cause you to feel bloated or unwell, so eat in moderation.
Avoid Off-putting Odours
Foods that have particularly strong smells can be overpowering and may turn you off eating a dish completely, especially if you weren’t particularly hungry to begin with. Avoid foods like tuna or stinky cheese (unless you happen to love them) or anything which has a smell that doesn’t appeal to you.
Use herbs and spices in cooking. On the other hand, foods that have a very pleasant or fragrant smell can be very appealing and might be just the thing to get your tummy rumbling. Try adding herbs or spices to your favourite foods to create wonderful aromas and add interest to food. You’ll no longer be put off by bland and boring foods.
Cinnamon is one spice that is often said to naturally stimulate your appetite. Add it to baked foods, sprinkle a bit on buttered toast or add a little to a hot cup of cocoa to appreciate its warm and spicy aroma and flavour.
Make Meal Times Pleasant
Eating can be a much more enjoyable experience when you put some effort into creating a pleasant atmosphere at meal times. Light some candles, put some music on, or watch your favourite TV show while eating. Also try to avoid stressful topics of conversation at the dining table, especially if your poor appetite is a symptom of anxiety.
Doing some light exercise can really help to stimulate your appetite. Your body is designed to crave more energy from food after burning calories, so you’ll always feel hungrier after exercising.
You don’t need to put in a strenuous work-out at the gym for this to work, even a brisk walk outside in the fresh air half an hour before a meal can help to stimulate appetite.
If you are underweight, you should avoid any form of strenuous exercise because even though you will be hungrier after working out, the food you eat will only balance out the calories you burned while exercising, which is no good if you are trying to gain weight. Leave the strenuous exercise until your appetite has improved and weight has increased.
Drink Enough Liquids
You should aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or water-based drinks a day. Drinking a glass of water an hour before and an hour after a meal can help with digestion and ensure that there is not too much food in the stomach at any given time. However, you should avoid drinking too much water directly before a meal, as this can decrease your appetite and give you a false sense of fullness.
Certain herbal teas have also traditionally been used to increase appetite, in particular peppermint, anise teas. Try drinking a cup or two throughout the day to increase your liquid intake and potentially increase your appetite.
Keep a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary is a great way to identify and understand the problems in your relationship with food, so you can attempt to overcome them. Every day you should make notes of the times you felt hungry or of the foods that appealed to you most. This way, you can identify the best times and foods for you to eat, so you can maximize your intake appetite.
You should also make notes of foods or smells that you find unappealing, so you can try to avoid them in future.
In addition, keeping a food diary will allow you to track your progress to see how far you’ve come, which can be a great confidence booster.
Avoid Eating Alone
It is a lot easier to skip meals or avoid eating what’s on your plate if you frequently eat alone. Arrange to eat family dinners or invite a friend over to eat with you. You will enjoy the experience more and may even forget that you’re eating.
Having other people around is also a good idea as they can offer you encouragement and hold you accountable for the food you fail to eat, if that’s what you want.
If eating with family and friends is not always an option, consider joining a business breakfast club or an interest-based social club where you can dine alongside others for a few meals a week
Use Large Plates
Eating food off larger plates than usual is a psychological trick which leads your brain to believe that you are eating a smaller portion of food. In this way, you can eat more than if the food was piled high on a small plate, even if it’s exactly the same amount of food. Using brightly coloured plates and arranging your food in an aesthetically pleasing way has also been said to positively affect appetite.
See a Doctor
If your poor appetite persists you should consider seeing a doctor. If he or she feels that your appetite is negatively impacting your health, they may prescribe you with an appetite inducing medication, such as megestrol or cyproheptadine, which should help you to get a healthy appetite back in no time
Increasing Your Appetite for Bodybuilding
Increase your zinc intake. Zinc is a very important mineral for bodybuilders – it strengthens the immune system. Low zinc levels have also been linked with poor appetite, as zinc is needed to produce HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) which regulates digestion in the stomach. Therefore, by increasing your zinc intake you can also increase your appetite.
It is recommended that beginner bodybuilders start out with 15 milligrams a day (for men) and 9 milligrams a day (for women), though this can be increased over passage of time.
It is possible to increase your zinc intake by taking a supplement; however toxicity is a concern so it’s best to get as much of your daily zinc intake from food as possible. Some foods which contain high levels of zinc include: wheat bran, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Drink Protein Shakes
If you’re having trouble eating the large quantities of food necessary to build muscles, you can consider drinking protein shakes. Protein shakes are essentially a type of supplement which provides high levels of protein in an easily drinkable form. They are helpful when consuming large quantities of protein-rich foods leaves you feeling bloated and overly-full.