Ever had that feeling? When you are hungry, or you think that you are hungry, or you know that you should eat something, but you just don’t feel like eating?
Sometimes there is a tinge of nausea or stomach-tightening when you think about whatever’s in the fridge or café cabinet. Sometimes your mind is preoccupied with something and it feels like there is no capacity for your brain to deal with anything else like preparing a meal or even chewing and swallowing. Sometimes you are ill with the flu or a niggling headache and you just don’t have an appetite. You take a bite out of a sandwich or banana and immediately lose interest in finishing it. What to do?
First up, don’t stress about it. Usually, when you are hungry you will have a good appetite because your body systems are all functioning in the way that nature intended. Sometimes, the “wires get crossed” and your urge to eat does not sync with everything else. Wait for up to a couple of hours and you may find that your appetite is back and you can enjoy the postponed meal.
Drink lots of water. This will keep you hydrated and get your digestive system moving. If water has no appeal for you, then try something with tang like lemonade or apple juice.
Whilst you are waiting, do something that gets your circulation going. A light walk, some housework or gardening, or even a trip to do some window-shopping will help. When you wait it out, it is helpful to be in a social environment where you can have a laugh and chat with other people. Humans are social beings, we get cues and sub-conscious motivators from people around us. Appetite is promoted when the environment around us is vibrant and engaging. Ever notice how good your appetite is when you are enjoying a holiday in a new place?
If that does not seem to do the trick, try eating whilst you do something else, so that your attention is directed away from whatever is causing your lack of appetite. Movies, books, video games, social media, the internet, TV and 101 other things can divert your attention as you steadily work your way through a meal.
Now on to what to eat. A general rule of thumb is: keep it simple and keep it small. A small meal every few hours is a much better idea than going for many hours between meals.
Here are some suggestions:
Soup or broth. Sometimes a warm bone broth or tasty tomato soup will unlock the system and get those digestive juices flowing. They are easy to make and easy to eat, especially if you serve them in a mug which can be sipped whilst you work or play.
Boiled eggs. Eggs a chock-full of nutrients and easy to digest. Make a couple of hard-boiled eggs, add a dash of salt and pepper and you could be ready for something more substantial in a couple of hours as they work their nutrient magic. If you have not eaten for a while, the eggs, which have a bit of everything you need, will give you a nice sustained energy boost.
Bananas. Choose a ripe one which peels easily to benefit from soothing low-acid sustenance which is packed with potassium and magnesium. Many people find that bananas help with nausea.
If you feel like getting creative and having some fun with flavour, try your own designer smoothie. You may find that thinking about your recipe as an experiment might stimulate your taste-buds. What does a simple banana smoothie taste like when you add a spoon of peanut butter to the mix? How about a scoop of mascarpone to strawberries and milk?
If none of this works then try the ultimate urban solution: visit the food-court of your local shopping mall. Walk around and take in the sights and smells. Decide on what you do not like, and what you do like (if anything). Even if you still don’t feel like eating immediately, you will benefit from having been immersed in the possibilities and might find the inspiration you need to get some food into your belly!