“You cannot buy appetite and sleep as you buy food and bed”
“Work for food & take food for work”
“Eat to live and don’t live to eat”
These are all popular sayings. Appetite and fasting usually refresh the stomach every time. You can feel good digestion after your appetite returns or after fasting. Even though people are aware of all these, they take pleasure in overeating and go for a lot of snacks in between meals while watching TV or games. They never let their stomach be empty to develop a good appetite.
Also out of overwhelming love, some children are brought up without their having any appetite i.e. they are pressured to eat more, where they will never enjoy eating or know the need or importance of it. Here one should mind that habits developed in childhood will usually be followed into adulthood.
Undoubtedly, nutrition plays a major role in health, so does “appetite”. Appetite is a desire or craving or relish food. It is natural, common for everyone and felt by everyone. It is well played by the brain considering the sugar level in the blood, the digestive process, fat deposits, hormones, etc. Appetite is often mixed up with hunger. To differentiate clearly, appetite has more to do with the brain and usually gets altered with external factors whereas hunger is more involved with the stomach and gets modified according to internal factors. Hunger is a type of pain in the stomach caused by acid secretion loaded in the stomach for digesting food particles. It indicates a need for food/energy for our body.
Digestion is a complex phenomenon which is less understood. Altogether, the entire thing (growth and sustainability) depends on appetite and digestion. None other than the obese can happy about the loss of appetite. Those who lack appetite will go from doctor to doctor to get it back, for fear of death or disease. They should understand that usually appetite comes with eating regularly.
Loss of appetite i.e., lacking in providing nutrients or energy to the body, may form the foundation for diseases. Oily fats/fatty foods, carbonated drinks, tinned foods with preservatives, lots of medication, irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, etc., are commonly rewarded with loss of appetite. Appetite loss will also follow in case of prolonged sleep, depression, aversion to food, etc. It varies from children to adults.
Appetiser – Appetizer will create an appetite for food, i.e., it gives applause for food. From childhood, some would have been given tonics for for good appetite and for being robust. Developing this habit is not correct since the artificially created appetite will work till the tonic lasts. In hotels, soups are served as appetizers or starters to have good intake.
Loss of appetite/decreased appetite – is medically called ‘anorexia’. Lack of appetite may arise from many reasons. Any illness can affect appetite, from the initial day onwards, Likewise, appetite will resume as the first betterment symptom while getting cured.
Common causes for loss of appetite are:
- Emotional – anxiety, mental stress and strain, nervousness, tension, loneliness, loss, aversion to food, depression, etc., can cause loss of appetite.
- Physiological – pregnancy, prolonged sleep, laziness, ageing
- Physical – congenital deformities causing difficulty in deglutition, assimilation and elimination can cause loss of appetite
- Cosmetic – weight reduction procedures, fear of obesity
- Pathological – arising from diseases – TB, jaundice, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, duodenal ulcer, oesophagitis, stomatitis, asthma, anaemia, heart diseases, cancer, AIDS, etc.
- Drugs – steroidal and hormonal treatments, chemo therapy
- Socio-economic factors – with habit of suppressing one’s appetite
- Tremors and palpitations
- Fear of food or vomiting
- Even a handul of food causing aversion
- Weight loss
- Increased acid secretion in stomach with burning eructations
- Pain in stomach or fullness of abdomen
- Fear of food
- Recurrent and repeated illnesses due to lowered immunity
- Indigestion and frequent diarrhoea
- Weight loss
Physical – Exercise is good to stimulate appetite and utilise food
Special senses – Sight and smell of food can also induce appetite; sometimes even hearing
Artificial – Drugs and tonics
Natural – Ginger, basil leaves, grapes, honey, pineapple, carrot
Diagnosis – It is important to rule out serious illnesses with abdominal ultrasound scan, colonoscopy, liver function tests, Barium meal X-rays and thyroid function tests.
- Die t in a relaxed manner, without any hurry
- Easily digestible, oil-free food
- Nutritious diet for not more than 3/4th of the stomach
- Water before and after meal
- Tension and hurried life
- Full and heavy meal
- Oily diet and snacks before meal or bed time
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, chewing tobacco
- Aerated drinks, coffee and tea
Caution – To avoid medical emergencies, diabetic patients, low BP patients, peptic ulcer patients, heart patients, pregnant/nursing women should go continue eating even though there is loss of appetite. Otherwise, it will bring complications. Follow routine food habits.
Take food Like a king in the morning, Like a prince in the afternoon &Like a princess at night.
Common appetite-related disorders
1. Anorexia nervosa – is one of the common diseases that arising during adolescence with loss of appetite and depression. It makes the sufferer look thin as skeleton due to drastic weight loss. Adolescent girl suffer from this more. They usually feel bad about their appearance and suffer physically as well as psychologically with fear of food or diseases or death. They crave for an appetite. Psychological counselling and apt treatment is necessary to restore normal health.
2. Increased appetite and obesity – Skipping timely meals will usually bring voracious, canine-like hunger. Sometimes, hunger is felt at midnight or in the early morning. These peoples are supposed to suffer from peptic ulcer. The frequent overeating – polyphagia/hyperphagia – will often bring about obesity, but there are many diseases, where even with excessive appetite and intake, there would be weight loss: Ex – diabetes, hypertension (blood pressure), hyperthyroidism, etc. These people should train themselves to have a regular diet at regular intervals with effective treatment. No one can eliminate hunger. Obese patients often reduce their weight or obesity by fooling the stomach with bulky fibre diet that has no calories. They also go for appetite suppressants to avoid intake. Appetite suppressants commonly used are:
- Soft drinks, alcohol, coffee, tea
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
Appetite is one of the important general symptoms (others are thirst, stool, urine, sleep, menses, etc.) for which Homeopathy is good treatment. It is called a general symptom since it affects the person as a whole compared to the localised symptom. Appetite and good digestion help build the natural defence mechanism and the body to act against diseases. Homeopathy increases immunity and enables the body to fight the infection by itself. After apt Homeopathic treatment, one can confirm
- improvement of appetite
- arrestment of weight loss and tiredness
- weight gain and feeling refreshed
It treats according to the totality of symptoms, feelings of the patient and cause of the disease. Homeopathy can open a new avenue which is straight and short for having good appetite and good digestion. In case of voracious appetite alsoH homeopathy makes it normal rather than suppressing or reducing it by any suppressants. But it is best one cultivates regular food habits combined with good exercise to keep oneself always healthy.
Homeopathic Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)