General Question

DrasticDreamer's avatar

How can I make myself eat more?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23974points) May 25th, 2009

I’ve been pretty down in the dumps lately and as a result, I’ve been eating once a day. Sometimes it’s not even a meal, it might only be an orange, for instance. Before people tell me how unhealthy it is, I know already.

I am not intentionally starving myself or anything stupid like that, but I get extremely sick to my stomach every time I try to actually eat something substantial.

Is there anything I can do to stop feeling so sick every time I try to eat? I need some ideas, because I’m starting to get so dizzy that I almost pass out every time I stand up. :(

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35 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I’m the same way.. Any help would be great.

augustlan's avatar

In the long-term, try to address the problems that are causing the depression. Counseling and/or meds can be very helpful.

For right now, get yourself some Ensure and/or Carnation Instant Breakfast (do they still make those?). If you’re going to be eating very little, make sure it’s calorie and nutrient dense. Heck, even ice-cream gives you protein and calcium! One of my daughters literally lived for about a year on nothing but ice cream mixed w/ Ensure & chocolate sauce (to cover up the awful flavor of the Ensure).

pops's avatar

You do have a good appetite but its just symptoms of a bigger problem. I read ur earlier post about college and nt so good friends….its not depression or anything you are facing..just get some fresh some basketball..or go for a movie..change your enviornment…you will feel better…you are a young girl with a great spirit…have fun!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@pops Some of your suggestions might help, but trust me, it’s depression. I’ve suffered from it before and it’s pretty bad right now, despite how it may seem to others.

Grisaille's avatar

Everything that @augustlan has said. Ensures, Carnation Instant Breakfasts (yes, they are still made – I have some in my cabinet, actually :P) and what have you. Also, multigrain bars, and similar products help a bunch.

Check out multivitamins (basic ones, not the ones for athletes – you don’t want to shock your system), just to get you on the right track.

Try light stuff. Cup Noodles, some cheese with crackers, peanut butter sandwiches – anything that you can stomach. Try to eat frequently, 4–5 light meals a day.

I know it sounds like much, but just try to get it in your system and work yourself up to larger, substantial meals. Any food is better than none.

Get better :[

pops's avatar

Everyone goes through ups and downs…its natural…there is always something that bothers everyone at a particular time…for eg. a CEO not doing good at a quater…a baseball player not getting home runs….or a school kids facing probs with grades…but if they all think…gosh…I lost it…I cant do it no more…they would be pretty down..but if they come back with a bang and say “lets get it done”...they end up doing it…and feel good at the end of the day.

rooeytoo's avatar

Dairy products are always good, they are reasonably healthy and sustaining, plus easy on your gut. Cream cheese and jelly on bread or bagel is always good and easy to digest. And you probably have heard it before but a little exercise, like a walk or a bike ride, they usually stimulate your appetite too.

and like Grisaille said, more small meals instead of a couple of big ones. Oh yeah, pretzels, they are always good for me.

alive's avatar

i just had an extreeeeeeemely stressful month and i was in the same boat. couldn’t eat due to nerves and i’d get sick. i even involuntarily puked several times.

if there is one thing that is not making you sick then start with that. for me oddly enough it was quiche.

you need some basics like salt and sugar. so you can drink something like gatorade, or emergen-c, or sprite. all of these should be easy on the stomach.

just a thought, but—are you eating alone or with company? would you rather be alone or with comapny? for me being around people was just adding to the stress level so being alone in the quiet helped me relax, and my stomach relaxed too. but if being alone is only making you feel sadder, then have a friend come eat with you and keep you company.

whatthefluther's avatar

I think we all go through stressful periods that cause such a reaction. As others have said, try to think of something simple that always sounds good to you. For me, it is a very simple pasta dish that always makes me feel better for eating it. I’d give you the details, but you might not like all the ingredients and I don’t want to destroy your appetite any further. Maybe a good piece of bread with butter. Or a mild cheese with your fruit. Or cookies…who doesn’t like cookies? Or, maybe you’ve tried an herb in the past that helped your appetite. There must be something that sounds good to you. Good luck…wtf

@johnpowell…PBRs do not provide a balanced diet. I suspect you got yourself all stressed out worrying about Allie last night. You must eat something. Most people like macaroni and cheese, but I seem to recall a story you shared a few days ago and I’m not too sure I’ll ever be able to eat the stuff again. If I recall from your interview, you are fond of pizza and burritos…well, have at my friend. And wash it down with a liberal amount of PBR. You’ll feel better for it! See ya…wtf

Critter38's avatar

I hope you don’t mind me being direct and emphasizing some of the points made earlier,

But you need to seek medical help.

You state that you are dizzy from lack of food, and that you suffer from depression, and that this episode of depression is pretty bad. These symptoms are too serious to leave to Fluther.

I sincerely ask you to get in contact with your GP, or a trained counsellor (whoever your medical contact is), and let your closest friends or family know that you need some help.

All the best

dynamicduo's avatar

Respect your body. It is a machine which you are the guardian of. It needs good nutrients and a good working out to function properly, and when you get out of your mental funk you will appreciate a machine that works without kinks and bloat. If you know you won’t be eating completely, accept this and eat a multivitamin along with whatever easy or comfort food you want to eat. Go for fruits, they’re portable, easy, and delicious. Try try try to get outside for a walk at least half an hour (more is better), if you are inside all day, you will greatly benefit from having the sun on your face, and the exercise and fresh air will feel good. Good luck, hold in there. This too shall pass.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

I can’t add to any of the dietary advice here already, but I do have one question to ask.

Is there nobody at all you can speak to? No one you can talk about your problems and walk along a park or a beach with? Somebody who can do their best to just be with you and listen and help with your problems by just being there?

miasmom's avatar

I agree that you need to get some help, depression is a very real issue. Many people don’t realize that unless they’ve gone through it themselves or have seen someone go through it.

I had a friend whose hypoglycemia contributed to her depression, so when she did eat (what little she did), she ate the wrong foods and it totally through off her blood sugar level and made things worse. I don’t know if that is true for you, but try snacking on protein, like cheese sticks, and see if that helps you.

Kayak8's avatar

@Critter38 is correct, this calls for a medical intervention.

Eating is how we nurture ourselves, so it is not surprising that you wouldn’t be encouraged to do so if you are depressed. Depression is a very REAL illness caused by chemical imbalance in the brain (you can’t “just get over it” by going for a walk or “pull yourself out of it.”) Medical intervention is critical for any type of chemical imbalance (think diabetes).

I work with AIDS patients and could give you a bunch of different ideas for getting food on board, but that is likely a symptom, not the problem. You have to deal with the problem directly first.

PS. the dizziness comes from not eating. It will go away when you go back to eating (after you treat the depression).

SirBailey's avatar

I would like to hear that you’re seeing a GI. How long have you had the problem? Is there absolutely no meal that goes down? I also hope you’re taking vitamins, drinking lots of water and eating high calorie foods like ice cream or supplements they sell in health food stores.

Also get that depression looked into. If it’s lasting so long that you’re physically getting sick, it’s TOO LONG!

Good luck.

P.S. Have you been put on any new medications lately? Some can also cause those symptoms.

hearkat's avatar

I have been through several major depressive episodes. Food and I have had a difficult relationship my whole life. I’d have the tendency to over-eat, but at times could barely force a morsel between my jaws.

A couple other ideas for small, healthy portions:
Yogurt (I like Stonyfield, it’s organic and has many health benefits). There are also youguet smoothies, if you like the idea of drinking more than eating.
Kashi makes protein and fiber bars that are pretty good, they also have soft fruity bars and chewy granola type bars.

Vitamins might irritate an empty stomach, so take them with a snack.

Eating smaller meals more frequently during the day is actually healthier for you, and you’re body isn’t accustomed to feasting, so don’t try to force a full meal.

Intellectualize the process and try to separate from your emotions until you are in a supportive therapeutic environment… treat food as the fuel it is for your body.

We fill the tank and check the tires before a road trip, right? So as you start your day and think about what you’ll be doing, fill up your ‘tank’ with a yogurt. At the next break in your day, refill the tank with a granola bar and a piece of fruit. At the next break, refuel with a small salad with some cheese on it, etc.

I agree that you need to seek professional help. To find low/no-cost services in your area, go to

I understand why you came to Fluther… There are many (if not most) of us who are here regularly that have dealt with depression or some other mental illnesses and are in varying states of recovery using different techniques. Even though we’ve never met in person, we do care. Don’t hesitate to ask us for advice.


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

After my latest bout of depression, I lost quite a bit of weight from not eating. I am over six feet tall and normally only weigh about 170, so losing weight is something I can’t afford to do. The meds the doc put me helped, and I found that when I did feel hungry, to focus on light stuff. I re-discovered a comfort food from long ago, saltine crackers. I also bought a juicing machine as a way to get vitamins and fiber in a easy to digest way. I understand if you can’t afford one, but it was something that worked for me.

I’d follow the suggestions of these folks here, because depression is nothing to ignore. I found out the hard way.

wildpotato's avatar

If you live in any of the states marked on this map I would suggest speaking to your doctor about medicinal marijuana. It was the only thing that made me able to eat during flare-ups of IBS/Krohn’s. But I would not necessarily try this without talking to a doc. I know it helps some cancer (and other fatal-disease) pts with depression, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how it affects straight-up clinical depression.

brettvdb's avatar

You should smoke some pot – it will make you hungry and will relieve you of nausea – talk to your doc about it.

EDIT: @wildpotato oops sorry! I didn’t read your answer before I posted mine :(

chelseababyy's avatar

Go out and do something that will up your spirits. Just relax and enjoy yourself. Do something to get your mind off of whatever is bringing your down. I have this problem all the time. When you do eat, try to eat an actual meal, just in a small portion. But remember to most definitely eat breakfast, you may not really notice, but it will make you feel a lot better!

tinyfaery's avatar

Try some antacids. Try an over the counter type that helps tp stop the acid production in your stomach.

My emotions are highly connected to my digestive system; meaning, I get sick to my stomach when I am stressed or anxious. I have dealt with this for almost 8 years now. Like others have suggested, for a more long term result: therapy, medical tests (just to make sure) ,maybe a mild anti-depressant

However, most of my relief has come through acupuncture. I’m not saying my “bad spells” don’t still occur, but they occur much less often. and when they do I somehow how the emotional wherewithal to cope.

figbash's avatar

Oh, I’m sorry, DD. I’ve been where you are. I once had a breakup that was so disorienting that I lost about 20 pounds. I literally couldn’t eat anything. I recognized that I needed something easy and low key, but also nutrients to keep my seratonin restabilized, so I started slow.

I put on my darkest sunglasses and and Ipod and walked to a local smoothie place. I’d get something with berries as a base and then fortify the hell out of it with every boost I could, like C, Fiber, and soy protein. Then, on the way home, I’d swing by a local bakery and grab a loaf of round, fresh bread. The smells of the bakery helped pick me up a little and it was easy to scoop out the bread innards and get them into my stomach which also helped stop the nausea.

I found that if I had this one goal for getting out of the house each day, I started to gain steam. Sure, eating only bread and smoothies is the farthest thing from what I’d normally eat, but I knew I was getting some nutrition, protein, and carbs. Even if I could only have part of each one. Plus, I’m convinced that getting out and moving around really gave me some perspective and a bit of a Vitamin D boost. After awhile, I was eating these small bursts of food more frequently, and my appetite gained momentum and I was eating almost regularly again.

You’re an incredibly smart girl and always give out great, sage advice on so many different topics – I’m sure you know that you should get to the root of what’s setting this off – whether this hard time is due to igniting hardwired childhood issues, a neurochemical dip, or a combo of both. I hope you feel better soon.

Darwin's avatar

1) Stock your cupboards and your fridge with plenty of things you really, really like and then graze – eat small amounts frequently throughout the day.

2) Figure out a way to get yourself out of the house to someplace where there are people you like.

3) Exercise. It will raise your level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones.

4) See your doctor about getting a temporary anti-depressant of some sort if the above don’t work.

Supacase's avatar

I definitely understand that getting out of a deep depression is more than taking a nap or going for a walk. Are you seeing someone to help you in the long-term? You need to make sure you get things turned around before they get worse.

Is there anything you can eat without getting sick to your stomach? Even if it isn’t the healthiest thing, it will get calories into your system. Try gingerale (made with real ginger) to settle your stomach or saltines. I know it is a completely different situation, but some pregnant women have success with fighting morning sickness (which can last all day) by eating a little something like some crackers in bed before sitting or standing.

Take a good multi-vitamin even if you have to force it down.

If you end up in a desperate situation, which it sounds like you are near, go to your doctor and ask for a short-term Rx for an anti-nausea medication like phenergan.

wildpotato's avatar

I second the phenergan for nausea or pain. It takes away stomach sickness like little else.

CMaz's avatar

I am a great cook! Come on over. Let me make you something.

3or4monsters's avatar

One: A Lack of Vitamin B-12 can exacerbate depression.
Two: Fish oil supplements, or Omega-3s, can help with depression

That said, if you are feeling down right now, and can only eat in small amounts, make sure those small amounts include healthy fats and B vitamin complexes. Get a multivitamin and fish oil caps (which can result in fishy burps after taking, unless you freeze them first). When you DO eat, make sure to get those healthy fats and proteins, and not just carbs.

Healthy fats and proteins include olive oil, avocado, peanut butter, nuts, and beans. Proteins like fish (salmon in particular), chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu, and…. beans again!

I’m not trying to say that these foods and supplements will “cure” your depression, but they may play a part in helping you get through this without becoming malnourished.

Strong's avatar

Make Cooking your passion.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Everyone I’ll try to follow a lot of the advice you’ve given. Thanks, guys.

@3or4monsters I ate some salmon last night, without feeling sick, so it helped a little bit. I could feel a difference right away. I’ve been drinking a lot of water and juice, for now, until I can do more.

fedupwitcaddys's avatar

you poor thing….....i had the same thing happen to me some years ago. the passing out, the depression and the loss of appitite. so i know exactly where you’re coming from. the way i dealt with it was to surround my self around more positivity and disassociate your self with what evers making you down. believe me i KNOW. after i did that i gradually got my appitite back. i ate light meals like a bowl of mashed potatoes or even some ramen noodles until my stomach got back use to eating big meals. but i KNOW it doesnt happen over night! and any one who hasnt ever suffered from depression cant tell you a damn thing about it. for me it took a few years of counseling and a few ABILLIFYS but i dont really condone antidepressants unless its the LAST resort because you can be taking them one minute and the next, you see the shit on a commercial being recalled due to deadly adverse reactions and compliations due to side effects and lawyers trying to help someone sue because someones LOVED ONE died taking the crap.
but relly try to shake WHAT or WHO ever is troubling you.

good luck on finding a peace of mind like i did.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@fedupwitcaddys when it comes to pharmaceuticals, it helps to know what you are getting into. Many of the older less expensive drugs have fewer side effects. I always tell my doctor if I am having side effects to any drug, and if I don’t like how they make me feel, I take myself off of them and tell him try something else. Sometimes it takes several tries to get the right mix, or even just the right drug that works. Newer isn’t always better.

augustlan's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Just be careful taking yourself off antidepressants. Many of them must be stepped down over time in order to avoid hellacious withdrawal symptoms!

pops's avatar

Man! After reading all the articles…I got hungry!!

wundayatta's avatar

As others have said, get your meds adjusted. They can stop working, as I’m sure you know. It will be hard to start eating until you get the depression taken care of. At least you know what’s going on. Of course, if you’re like me, after your meds have changed, you’ll have the opposite complaint! I’ll trade you even up. A little bit of my extra baggage for a little bit of your luggage allowance. If only it were possible.

6rant6's avatar

Really nice to see the outpouring of concern.

Eating with other people is really a good idea. There are so many cues that tell you, “Eating is good,” that it can happen pretty unconsciously. Have you considered cooking FOR other people as a way to restart your appetite? A taste here, a left over noodle there… I know being the cook makes eating much too easy for me!

People who need to lose weight are advised to keep snack-type foods out of sight, so the opposite might help you: try to keep something edible (and relatively healthy) in sight most of the time.

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