How To Manage Appetite Loss During Pregnancy
Many women experience appetite loss during pregnancy.
You may occasionally find food unappealing, or you may feel hungry but can’t bring yourself to eat.
If you’re dealing with these symptoms, you may want to know possible reasons for your appetite loss, tips for treating it, and when to see a health professional.
It’s normal for your appetite to fluctuate, especially as your body undergoes numerous changes during pregnancy.
If you lose your appetite, you may experience a general disinterest in all foods or a lack of desire to eat. Keep in mind that appetite loss differs from an aversion to a few specific foods, which is also fairly common during pregnancy.
Several factors may cause appetite loss during pregnancy, such as the following.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester though some women may experience these symptoms throughout their pregnancy.
Both mild and extreme cases of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can significantly affect food intake and appetite.
Research has shown that fluctuations in the hormones leptin and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) during pregnancy may lead to decreased appetite and more nausea and vomiting.
A study in 2,270 pregnant women demonstrated that among women with moderate or severe nausea and vomiting, 42% and 70% reported a reduced level of food intake in early pregnancy, respectively.
If you’re experiencing appetite loss due to nausea and vomiting, try to avoid fatty or spicy foods, drink fluids separately from your meals, and eat small, more frequent meals.
You may more easily tolerate dry, salty snacks like pretzels and crackers, as well as bland foods like baked chicken breast.
However, you may need to see a health professional if you experience more serious cases of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Mental health conditions
Various mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, may affect your appetite.
In fact, pregnant women may be more prone to mental health issues due to various physical and biochemical changes. In particular, depression may lead to altered eating habits, including decreased appetite and a reduced intake of nutrient-dense foods.
In a study in 94 pregnant women, 51% of those diagnosed with depression had poor dietary intake, which increased to 71% after 6 months.
What’s more, depression during pregnancy is linked to a decreased appetite for healthy foods, an increased appetite for unhealthy foods, and lower intakes of important nutrients like folate, fatty acids, iron, and zinc. This may negatively affect fetal and maternal health.
Mental health disorders commonly go undiagnosed during pregnancy due to the shame that some pregnant women feel talking about them. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s important to consult a trusted health professional.
As your body adjusts to pregnancy, you may find certain foods unappealing or experience a loss of appetite. Sometimes, you can’t bring yourself to eat even if you’re hungry.
Keep in mind that appetite loss is fairly common and often linked to other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. You may find that your appetite fluctuates, which is perfectly normal.
If you lose your appetite but still feel hungry, you can try eating small servings of bland, simple foods that are filling, rich in nutrients, and easy on your stomach.
If you experience chronic or long-lasting appetite loss, consult a health professional.