Understanding 'Hungry but No Appetite' - Reasons Your Body Is Playing Tricks On You

Last Updated
March 3, 2023
Man has a loss of appetite

What Is Appetite Loss?
How To Cope
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Appetite loss, also known as anorexia (not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder), is a decrease or lack of desire to eat.

- Illness
- Medications
- Mental health issues
- Aging
- Hormonal changes
- Eating disorders
- Substance use
- Fatigue or sleep deprivation
- Poor nutrition
- Overeating or irregular eating habits

- Identify the cause
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Choose nutrient-dense foods
- Make meals enjoyable
- Stay hydrated
- Address emotional factors
- Establish a routine
- Exercise
- Consult with a healthcare professional
- Use appetite-stimulating supplements

The phrase "hungry but no appetite" means that someone feels hungry but does not want to eat. This can be hard because hunger is a basic human need, and being unable to eat can make it tough to do everyday things.

In this blog post, we'll explain the reasons behind your loss of appetite and how to cope with appetite loss.


Common Causes of Hunger Without Appetite

Hunger without appetite can be confusing and frustrating. Several factors, including emotional aspects, physical characteristics, and medical conditions, can contribute to this issue.

Emotional Factors 

Stress, anxiety, and depression can all affect your appetite. These emotions can create a sensation of hunger, even when you don't feel like eating. If emotional factors impact your appetite, it might be helpful to talk to a mental health professional or explore an online therapy platform for support. 

Physical Factors 

Dehydration, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep can also lead to hunger without appetite. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and paying attention to your body's needs are essential to ensure you're not experiencing hunger due to these factors. [1]

Medical Conditions 

Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, gastrointestinal issues, or medication side effects, can cause hunger without appetite. If you suspect a medical issue is affecting your appetite, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. [2]

8 common causes of a loss of appetite infographic

What causes a loss of appetite?

Anorexia nervosa

Those who suffer from eating disorder like anorexia nervosa don't eat enough food. They are terrified of weight gain and have a distorted body view. They may also restrict the amount of food they eat, exercise too much, or purge what they eat. [3]

Viral infection

A viral infection can make you lose your appetite. This happens because a stuffy nose decreases your sense of smell which can cause a loss of appetite.

Inflammatory bowel disease

IBD is a group of diseases that cause inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fatigue. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two common forms of IBD. [4]

Irritable bowel syndrome

The large intestine is impacted by the condition known as IBS. It is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. [5]


Many people think that pregnant women have a lot of cravings. But not all pregnant women have an excessive appetite. The possible reason could be nausea or morning sickness. [6]


Loss of appetite can happen because digestion slows down, older people lose their sense of smell and taste, have dental problems, or have hormonal changes. If an older person seems to be losing their appetite, it's essential to contact a healthcare provider who specializes in geriatric medicine. [7]

Cancer treatments

Cancer patients who have radiation therapy and chemotherapy will experience appetite loss. Cancer therapies can make them feel nauseous and sick or change how food smells and tastes. [8]

Stress and anxiety

Your body may release cortisol and other stress hormones when you feel stressed or anxious. These hormones can make you lose interest in food. In addition, stress and anxiety can make it hard to digest food properly and may cause feelings of nausea. [9]


When your red blood cell count is too low, you have anemia. These cells help carry oxygen around your body and are used in respiration and converting food into energy. Anemia can make you feel weak, tired, and without an appetite.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can occur when the hormones leptin and ghrelin are out of balance. This can cause hunger and a mismatched appetite. Certain health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can cause hormonal imbalances and decreased appetite. [10]


Some medications, especially blood pressure medications, can cause side effects like nausea, making eating challenging. This happens because drugs can change how the body reacts to certain foods.

Digestive issues

In the case of an upset stomach or visiting the bathroom too often, digestive disorders can cause discomfort and stomach pain. When allergic or intolerant to certain foods, it can cause digestive problems causing appetite failure.

Other factors that cause a loss of appetite

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption [11]
A man can't eat due to loss of appetite

How to Stimulate Your Appetite

If you're experiencing hunger without appetite, there are several strategies to help stimulate your desire to eat:

Adjusting Your Eating Environment 

Creating a pleasant eating atmosphere can help encourage your appetite. Consider these tips:

  • Eat in a calm and relaxing environment.
  • Use visually appealing table settings.
  • Remove distractions like television or smartphones.

Trying Appetite-Boosting Foods 

Incorporate appetite-stimulating foods into your diet, such as:

  • Protein-rich foods (e.g., eggs, chicken, fish)
  • Healthy fats (e.g., avocado, nuts, olive oil)
  • High-fiber foods (e.g., whole grains, fruits, vegetables)

Incorporating Mindful Eating Techniques 

Mindful eating can help improve your appetite by encouraging you to focus on your body's hunger cues and savor your food. Some techniques include:

  • Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly
  • Paying attention to the taste and texture of your food
  • Listening to your body's hunger and fullness signals [12]

Here's how to cope with appetite loss

  • When you have a loss of appetite but are feeling hungry, try drinking high-calorie liquids instead. Smoothies, protein shakes, or meal replacement drinks can be a good substitute for solid foods while supplying nutrition and energy without making your digestive system work too hard. Sipping on bone broth or warm herbal tea may also help ease feelings of hunger.
  • Choose snacks that have a lot of protein and fiber. Eat small meals and snacks that include nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, or hummus. You could also add healthy fats to your diet, like avocado or olive oil.
  • You can change where you eat to help your appetite. Try eating in a different room or outside. You could also try lighting candles or playing soft music to make it more relaxing and enjoyable.
  • Feeling stressed or anxious will cause a loss of appetite. Doing activities that will help reduce your stress levels, like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, will help you to cope with stress and anxiety disorders that can decrease appetite loss.
  • Try eating smaller amounts more often during the day. This can help you get the nutrition you need and your digestive tract active.

When to seek medical attention

  • If you notice significant weight loss
  • If you're having chronic digestive issues, such as diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain.
  • If you have a severe or persistent lack of appetite or are experiencing other symptoms like vomiting, fever, or fatigue.
  • If you're taking any medications that might be causing you to lose your appetite, discussing this with your healthcare provider is essential. They may be able to adjust your medication or recommend other options.
  • If you are having symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health conditions - it's essential to see a mental health professional. The underlying cause of these symptoms can affect your eating habits and affect your eating behaviors.


Understanding the causes of hunger without appetite and taking proactive steps to stimulate your appetite can help improve your overall well-being. If you suspect that emotional factors contribute to your lack of appetite, consider seeking support from a licensed therapist through a convenient online therapy platform. By addressing the underlying causes and adopting healthy eating habits, you can regain control over your appetite and enjoy a more balanced relationship with food.


How does losing appetite affect a person's body and overall health?

Appetite loss can lead to malnutrition, fatigue, and decreased energy levels. Additionally, a lack of appetite can make adhering to a healthy diet challenging, leading to deficiencies in essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. This can also increase the risk for specific medical conditions caused by low or no vitamins and minerals like heart palpitations, cramps, and a low immune system.

Are there any treatments for loss of appetite?

Eating small meals regularly throughout the day might help you to restore your appetite which should be your first choice, but you can also take certain medications to stimulate your appetite if that does not help.


  1. Medical News Blogs: All you need to know about uremia
  2. Webmd: Digestive Disorders Resource Center
  3. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester: Anorexia Nervosa
  4. University of Washington: Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  5. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  6. Pubmed; What are some common complications of pregnancy?
  7. Nutrition, Appetite and Weight Loss in Elders Living in Long-Term Care Facilities
  8. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester: Loss of Appetite During Cancer Treatment
  9. Cornell Health: Depression & Anxiety
  10. Pubmed; Anemia and growth
  11. Pubmed: Impaired cholecystokinin secretion and disturbed appetite regulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome
  12. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Appetite - decreased
  13. Loss Of Appetite: Causes & Treatment - Cleveland Clinic

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Jamie Armstrong
I have a passion for writing. I work as a Senior Marketing Manager for Islomania LLC. I have developed a strong interest in writing articles and website management during my time here. I enjoy both article writing, poetry, and story writing. In my role as a marketing manager, whether I’m writing an article, or a story, or improving other writers’ content, I always try to engage my readers and give them something to think about.
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