General Question

Frankie's avatar

How can I get my appetite back?

Asked by Frankie (4032 points ) July 9th, 2011

I’ve been under an incredible amount of stress for the past two weeks. I recently graduated and started my first full-time job two weeks ago. At the same time, I’m taking evening GRE prep classes (and am taking the GRE on the 21st) as I will be applying to graduate programs in the fall. My new job has had a very steep learning curve that I had not anticipated, and it has left me stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. My performance in my GRE class has reflected that, which has only added to my stress as, obviously, I need to do well on the GRE to be accepted into a graduate program. I spoke with my new boss about all this yesterday, and thankfully he was incredibly understanding and is letting me take the next two weeks off so that I may focus solely on the GRE, which has significantly reduced my stress level.

The issue, though, is that as a result of all this stress, I’ve had literally no appetite for the past two weeks. Even after yesterday, it hasn’t improved. It has gotten to the point where I can’t even force myself to eat anymore…the thought of eating makes me feel sick. I don’t have a scale, but I estimate that I’ve lost somewhere between 5 and 8 pounds. As a 5’4” female who weighed around 108 to begin with, this is obviously a problem. I need to eat (especially because I won’t be able to study and concentrate properly if I don’t), but I don’t know how I can get my appetite back. Any suggestions or advice would be immensely appreciated. It’s also become very apparent to me that I do not handle high amounts of stress very well, so suggestions for dealing with and managing high stress levels would also be very helpful.

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17 Answers

marinelife's avatar

For stress:

Exercise regularly, perhaps daily.

Meditate or do yoga.

Have fun. Laugh.

To increase your appetite:

Eat a small amount of carbohydrates (potato chips are good). Wait and you will get hungry. Then eat some protein and vegetables.

gailcalled's avatar

As a stopgap, you can drink cans of “Ensure.”

Web site.

Hospitals use it for patients with broken jaws. But it is a temporary measure only.

Probably seeing a therapist is the best way to learn stress reduction techniques. There is also exercise, yoga, and various breathing techniques. But that is for after the exams.

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Frankie's avatar

@melissamorenosexy that makes sense, but the problem is that even small amounts of food make me feel sick. I ate a cashew earlier and almost threw up.

@marinelife and @gailcalled thanks for the suggestions…I’ll try some potato chips later on and will pick up some Ensure when I go to the store.

intrepidium's avatar

I recall reading somewhere that stress has some direct effects on gastroenterological functions i.e. digestion, absorption etc. and from personal experience (stress at work, abusive boss etc.) , I’m not surprised by what you’re going through – loss of appetite can be a bodily symptom of residual stress even though you’re feeling less mentally stressed now.

Don’t worry about getting back all of your appetite (worry sure doesn’t help) – concentrate more on getting the nutrients you need right now and slowly ease back into more normal eating patterns. It took me months but it differs for everybody

Be gentle to your body & ease in with light things (just a sip or bite and then stop but as often as you can manage, just don’t stress over it) like fruit juices, yoghurts/kefir, fresh fruits, soups/broths, light proteins like fish or boiled eggs. You might also want to take some multivitamin supplements for a bit until you regain your appetite. I also found laying off milk products for a while helped.but you need to figure out what works for you.

Stress has many effects and manifests differently in different people, but the key thing is to listen to your body.

filmfann's avatar

Since you are having issues with stress and appetite, the jokester in me wants to advise you smoke some pot, however I don’t approve of that, and it may conflict with any drug testing you may have to deal with at your job.
I therefore recommend that you get a massage. Get a mud bath if you can, and towel wraps are nice. Listen to some reggae, or big band music. Chill.
Wear a hawaiian shirt. It is amazing how relaxing that can be. It is hard to stress while wearing one.
Once you drop the stress, your appetite should return.

gailcalled's avatar

(I would NOT put greasy potato chips into a GI system that is unhappy (and empty).

Frankie's avatar

@intrepidium thanks for such a thoughtful and helpful response. I will definitely be making use of those suggestions.

@filmfann thanks for making me laugh! I may have to look into the massage (my full-time job money is begging to be spent frivolously!)..not sure about the Hawaiian shirt, though :P

@gailcalled good point…I have baked potato chips, would that be better?

gailcalled's avatar

How about a baked or microwaved potato? Your stomach will prefer real food at this point, I would think.

The other palatable dishes are scrambled or soft-boiled eggs, cooked rice, toast and jam, cottage cheese, white meat of chicken (without skin) or a simple cooked custard.

intrepidium's avatar

BTW I also found sucking on candied ginger slices helped; ginger is known for stomach soothing properties and used in cases of vertigo or sea-sickness as well. Just for fun and variety, sometimes I’ll get some Pop Rocks and lick on them… the sourness seemed to help with my appetite issues. Good luck!

JLeslie's avatar

I know you hate the idea of medication, but if it gets to a point that nothing is working I think you should try some Xanax.

Exercise is a great idea. Should help your stress level and cause you to be more hungry. Something you enjoy. Swimming, tennis, dance, etc. Also, maybe join a group. Something that will help you make new friends and aquaintances and that you will enjoy, something that interests you.

Are you absolutely sure there is nothing physical? No actual stomach problems? Or, maybe some sort of virus causing you to be nauseas? I once I had some weird illness for almost two months, every time I ate the nausea was unbelievable.

But, the most disrupted my appetite ever was was when I was very anxious, and Xanax was the only thing that worked. I had lost something like 7 pounds in a week, eating was horrible. I tried to make food Iliked best. Finally the drug made it easier. It also confirmed for me that it was because of my sadness and stress. I think you mentioned you have take other medications, but I got the impression is was antidepressants which is not the same. But, my memory might be wrong.

Frankie's avatar

@JLeslie I’m certain it’s nothing physical – I really don’t think it’s coincidental that this problem started when my anxiety and stress levels went through the roof.

I’m not on any antidepressants or medication, so I think you may be thinking of someone else there, but you are right that I don’t like the idea of medication. I’m realistic, though. My family has a long history of depression, and I’ve dealt with some depression over the years, but never bad enough or long enough to need medication. While I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about the new job for the next two weeks and can put my focus and energy entirely on the GRE, I know that when I go back to work I’ll be dealing with stress and feeling overwhelmed again. I’d prefer to deal with the stress and anxiety as holistically as possible, but I know I can only do so much, so if all else fails, I think I’d be open to Xanax or similar medication. I think it would be helpful for other issues I’m having (i.e., disappointment that I have to work for a year to begin with because I decided on grad school too late to apply for this coming year; the fact that I had to leave the part-time job, where I made great friends and memories and had no stress, that I had held the entire five years I was in school; the fact that I’m very lonely at the new job because I’m the only employee, etc). I’ll have to see what happens when I go back to the job. Thanks for the advice and suggestions!

raven860's avatar

Watch the cooking channel! for the appetite.
Exercise and watch Funny shows- Southpark, Family Guy, RayWilliamJohnson to reduce stress levels.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Minor typo in title corrected via internal edit.

Frankie's avatar

@augustlan Thank you for fixing that – I asked the question on my phone and didn’t notice it at the time, and it was really bugging me!

JLeslie's avatar

@Frankie I am thinking of someone else, sorry for the mistake. Xanax is very addictive, so I would only recommend it short term. I took once for 6 weeks to get through a really extreme circumstance, and the loss of appetite and weight I went through was very worrisome. It will do nothing for your depression, but so drastically affects any anxiety related symptoms like appetite, sleep disturbances, shaking, not sure what else you are experiencing just listing some problems I had.

Loneliness has to be one of the most depressng things of all time in my opinion. Reach out to people in your personal life, make plans, maybe let them know you are going through a tough time at work, or maybe make a friend at work if it seems possible.

And, you can always fluther and the collective is here for you :).
Hopefully, you will get through this time relatively quickly and things will turn around.

tcarrin58's avatar

I went through this because of accute stress and it should work for you. Go to drug store and find LIQUID vitamins even if for children and take them 10–15 min. before you feel you should eat which should be 3 meals a day. Even if you start with just a piece of toast your eating a breakfast and a apple for lunch and so forth. The vitamins will make your stomach girgle/part sick at first but then hungry and then gradually make you eat again. I went from 93 back up to 110 in 3 weeks.

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