When you eat less regularly over time, your body has to adapt by reducing energy expenditure in other ways. Your metabolism may plummet, your energy levels may plummet, and you may notice you develop a host of sneaky symptoms that don’t seem to have a designated root cause, but are all signs of not eating enough: Constipation, feeling cold all the time, drastic weight changes, or an inability to lose weight are some of the physical symptoms you may notice when undernourished.
In addition, there are equally remarkable psychological symptoms. You may find that you become preoccupied with thoughts about food, experience brain fog or lack of concentration, or develop increased cravings for high calorie foods. And remember: there are no weight restrictions on people who may experience symptoms of insufficient nutrient requirements, which means a person may be malnourished, not underweight.
Now let’s dive into the signs of not eating enough and what to do instead.
1. Low power consumption
Perhaps the most obvious sign of not eating enough, you may notice a decrease in your energy levels over time. If you have been chronically undernourished, this may not be obvious to you. Consider eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner, and enough snacks to keep you energized throughout the day and notice whether or not you feel a change in your energy levels. “Every organ and muscle in your body needs food to function, so it’s common to experience low energy levels and fatigue when you don’t eat enough,” says Haley Bishoff, RDNOwner of Rutsu Nutrition in Las Vegas. “You can think of your body as a car that needs gas to run – your body needs fuel in the form of healthy carbs, protein, and fats to create energy.”
One of the telltale signs of not eating is constipation because with less food in your system, your body slows down digestion to try to absorb as many nutrients as possible from the food you eat. An early indicator that you’re not getting the calories you need is a change in bathroom habits, according to a dietitian nutritionist Amanda Liptak, RDN. “What goes in must come out,” she says. “A sign of a healthy body and gut is have at least one bowel movement a day.” Bowel movements should be easy, effortless, adds Liptak. “If you notice that it’s suddenly harder to have a bowel movement, the color, shape, or the effort you’re making to remove waste from your body is more difficult, it’s time to review your nutrition” , she says. “Increase your calories slightly, as well as alimentary fiber and hydration, and see how much of a difference it makes.
3. Intense cravings and persistent thoughts about food
When you don’t get enough of it, it makes sense that our bodies send you stronger signals, like cravings, to eat high-calorie foods. If you regularly crave foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories, it may be a sign that you are not eating enough food in total throughout the day. Caroline Young, Dt.P.Owner of Complete self-nutrition in Atlanta, an eating disorder nutrition expert says that in her practice, one of the main signs of undernourishment is preoccupation with food. “Our bodies and our brains are wired to keep us alive,” says Young. “So if our body detects starvation in any form of undernourishment, even with subtle restriction, it sends signals to our brain to generate coherent thoughts about food. If you think about food all the time, chances are you are not eating enough.
4. Fight mood swings
If you’ve ever felt “hungry,” you can imagine the impact of a longer-term restriction. Even when it’s unintentional, undernourishment has a big impact on our mental health. Our brain needs fuel just like the rest of our body throughout the day. Chronic undernourishment patterns can trigger mood swings such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings. “We all need a variety of foods, and enough of them, to provide all the nutrients the brain and body need to function at their best. If you’re not eating enough, you’re down. a greater risk of depression and anxiety“, explain Kim Kulp, RDNowner of Gut Health Connection in the San Francisco Bay Area.
5. Being cold all the time
Being cold all the time is a sign that you may be struggling to eat enough. Without adequate nutrition, the body thermoregulation, or your system’s ability to regulate internal temperature, is impaired and your core body temperature may drop slightly. You may feel cold because your body is working so hard to keep you warm without enough fuel on board.
6. Nighttime snacking habits
Nighttime snacking is (of course) completely healthy, but excessive hunger at night can be a sign that you need more calories during the day. Eating enough throughout the day can help you feel full and satisfied and not need large amounts of food at night.
Also, eating at night can be a vicious cycle, as you may wake up the next morning and feel like skipping breakfast. So, repeating the restrict cycle and then overeating the next day. “One of the most common signs of undernourishment from my clients is excessive nighttime snacking,” says Kelsey Kunik, RDN and nutrition consultant for Zenmaster Wellness. “Avoiding or numbing hunger cues during the day with cups of coffee, diet coke, gum, etc. while eating only light meals during the day will send your body into the evening desperate for the energy it needs. he needs.”
7. Missing Your Cycle
For women, amenorrhea, or missing your period more than once, is a sure sign that something is wrong. Our monthly cycle can be a signal to be properly fueled. When you’re low on energy, the body doesn’t think it would be safe to get pregnant, so it suppresses the ability to conceive by altering your cycle and shortening or eliminating your period.
Lack of fuel and missed periods can be especially tricky in athletes who have high caloric needs. With increased amounts of exercise, refueling becomes even more important. Recovering your cycle regularly is a wonderful sign that you are starting to eat enough.