Have you ever felt sick or weary at the thought of eating? Been in a mood where nothing you can think of eating pleases you, even if you’re incredibly hungry? If so, you could be dealing with food fatigue.
This can often be mistaken for pickiness around food, but it is actually a completely different thing. It’s also not the same as simply losing your appetite; many people can feel hungry and still suffer from food fatigue.
What is Food Fatigue?
So, if food fatigue isn’t a loss of appetite or picky eating, what is it?
Food fatigue is a state of mind where people get overwhelmed at or bored of the thought of food, and it is an involuntary psychological reaction. Even if you like everything in your fridge or on your plate, food fatigue can sap your motivation to eat and the joy that you might usually get from a well-made meal; that includes your favorite foods.
It may not seem possible to get bored of food to the point that it prevents you from eating, but there are some people who struggle with this regularly.
What Can Cause Food Fatigue?
Fatigue for food is most often the result of a non-varied diet that cycles the same foods and meals over a long period of time. Those who are trying to lose weight or meet fitness goals might experience food fatigue as a result of eating plain meals like chicken and vegetables over and over again. Of course, there is also a tie to poverty.
Studies show that poverty is directly linked to food insecurity, and large families are the most seriously impacted. Trying to feed two adults and two or more children on a budget often leads to them bulk buying affordable items; even if you like bread, potatoes, or peanut butter, eating them more than once a day for long periods of time can reduce that enjoyment.
In short, anyone who regularly eats a limited diet that consists of the same basic ingredients over a long period of time can be impacted by food related fatigue.
But why does it matter? Surely fed is best?
While that is true and you certainly don’t need to enjoy what you eat to get the benefits of it, the psychological impact of food fatigue can lead many people to undereat.
The Negative Impacts of Food Fatigue
Prolonged periods of food fatigue can lead to several issues over time. While some people are more seriously impacted by food fatigue and more likely to undereat as a result, anyone can experience these negative side effects over time:
Extreme weight loss
If people start to avoid eating as a result of food fatigue, they can lose weight very quickly, and that poses many potential risks. Accelerated weight loss as a result of unintended fasting can impact our metabolism, increase the risk of certain health problems, and, in extreme cases, cause the formation of stretchmarks, as well as other forms of damage to the skin.
Malnutrition is a serious risk for many people experiencing food insecurity, partly as a result of having too little to eat, but also because of a lack of variety. The cheapest possible diet in many areas of the world may not contain all of the nutrients that a person needs.
Add undereating as a result of food fatigue to this, and people can become malnourished very quickly. Malnourishment increases the risk of health problems for all of us, but young children are at particular risk. They can experience lifelong health problems if they are seriously malnourished during development.
Stress and anxiety
Hunger drastically increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Plus, knowing that you need to eat to stay healthy, but finding no motivation to do so, can spark anxiety. Stress and anxiety seriously limit our quality of life and can lead to health problems such as insomnia, acid reflux, and high blood pressure.
Most people do not drink enough water, but we also get liquid from our food in many cases. Undereating because of food related fatigue can compound dehydration and lead to headaches, skin problems, stomach issues, and other digestive problems.
Lack of energy
Food related fatigue is strongly linked to general fatigue. If you habitually undereat, you will find it hard to maintain energy throughout the day. This, in turn, can increase stress and lower quality of life.
So, as you can see, food fatigue can be a very serious issue that leads to health problems in a short time. That’s why it is important to spot the signs and act quickly.
Symptoms of Food Fatigue
While some people are more prone to food related fatigue, everyone can experience it from time to time. If you start to experience food fatigue, you will notice symptoms like:
- Lack of desire to eat
- Inability to choose a food that appeals to you
- Unwillingness to eat despite being hungry
- Feelings of lethargy
- Stress when considering choosing a meal
- Anxiety around mealtimes
- Apathy towards foods that you usually like
If you notice yourself feeling this way over a long period of time, it’s possible you are dealing with food fatigue. The best way to deal with food fatigue is to act quickly, before you start to experience negative side effects.
How to Combat Food Fatigue
Fighting food related fatigue is relatively simple if you spot the signs early. Of course, if you have been experiencing it for a while, it may be harder to break the cycle. However, either way, there are some steps you can attempt to take to break free of food fatigue:
Take a break from cooking
Cooking can be joyful, but it can also be stressful. If you find that food fatigue makes it hard to cook, it is perfectly fine to stop cooking for a while and start eating foods that are pre-made or ordered in.
Try new flavor palettes
Food fatigue mostly raises its head when we eat the same things on a day-to-day basis, so adding new spices and ingredients to your usual meals can help you to break the cycle. Try experimenting with new cuisines or types of food to cleanse your palette and widen your horizons. Incorporating new flavors into your diet can also help you to stave off food fatigue in the future.
Eat raw foods
The human brain tends to associate crispiness with freshness. This is probably an evolutionary reaction to the need to avoid rotten or spoiled foods. If you are struggling with food fatigue, adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet can be helpful.
Make your meals more sociable
Food fatigue is sure to sap the joy from your meals; bringing enjoyment back to your meals doesn’t have to be about the food. If you are struggling to find foods that bring you enjoyment, try to eat in situations that bring you joy. Eating with friends and family can be a good way to beat food fatigue, especially if you do so in lively environments.
Take the easy route
There’s no shame in simply eating what is easiest for you. Food related fatigue can be tough, and it’s most important that you get the fuel and nutrients you need. If you just want meat or yogurt, eat that. If you want something sweet, indulge yourself. Having a craving for a certain food when you are in the middle of food related fatigue is a good sign, because it’s an opportunity to break that cycle.
There’s no single way to deal with food fatigue, so experiment with different methods to see what works for you. If you struggle with food related fatigue regularly, it could be best to consult a dietician or nutritionist to help you create a plan.