Friday, 31 October 2014

Bad Bellies and Appetite

This week I have experienced some loss of appetite, which is not usually something I have trouble with. Therefore, this week I would like to explore the causes of loss of appetite, particularly with a bad belly like mine, and share my thoughts on how to manage this symptom.


There are many possible causes of loss of appetite, and I have listed the most common ones below (summarised from here, here and here):

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Stress
  • PMS
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pregnancy
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Side effect from medication
  • Depression
  • Kidney, liver or heart disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Eating disorders

When looking at this list, I think that my problems with loss of appetite this week have been mainly caused by stress from work, as I have taken on a new role at work recently, and it has been very tiring. I am pretty sure that I do not have an infection or cancer, am not pregnant or suffering from an eating disorder, and do not have kidney, liver or heart disease. Also, I am generally excited about my new role, so I don’t think depression is a factor.

As previously discussed, stress can also exacerbate the symptoms of IBS and IBD, and I did also have quite a bad belly week in general. Additionally, loss of appetite is also common with both IBS and IBD. In particular, loss of appetite can be caused by many of the other symptoms or complications of these two conditions – bloating, nausea, pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and even mouth ulcers. You can read more about the relationship between appetite and IBS here, and with IBD here.


Although some people might say it can be useful to lose weight, and look for appetite suppressants when on a diet, loss of appetite is generally not a good thing. It is especially problematic for people with bowel conditions, as the body may already be missing out on some nutrients.

Therefore, I believe it is important to find ways to increase appetite when experiencing loss of appetite. Here is a list of possible ways to treat loss of appetite (summarised from here, here and here):

  • Treating the underlying condition, usually with medication
  • Eating smaller meals, to help avoid bloating
  • Eating food you enjoy
  • Eating bitter foods, which can stimulate digestion
  • Eating foods that can help settle the stomach
  • Maintaining a regular meal schedule
  • Creating a relaxing environment when eating
In my situation, I found that my appetite improved when I was more relaxed, and also when I was eating foods I liked. Stress relief activities also helped, such as dancing to my favourite music, or talking things out with people close to me.

Additionally, there are ways to prevent loss of appetite from occurring, as discussed here and here. In particular, these methods include changing your eating habits, avoiding stress, exercising, keeping hydrated, changing your routine, or adjusting medications.

Do you have any tips for managing your appetite? Share below.

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