Don’t have an appetite? Don’t have much (or any) interest in eating?
Biologically, we have to eat to get nutrition into us so that we can build and maintain bodily tissues. No food = no nutrition = no resources to supply the body with what it needs. You can see where this is a problem. (Now I’m not talking about doing a planned fast; I’m talking about having no interest in eating.)
We are, of course, biologically driven to eat, to take in nourishment. Our physiology demands it. So when we experience little or no desire to eat (for more than, say, a day), pay attention.
There are many reasons why this may be so, but I would be willing to bet that stress is going to be a factor. So, let’s look at that.
The three Ayurvedic doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha all handle/process stress differently. Accordingly, we give different recommendations, depending on which constitution is at play (as well as any mitigating factors).
*Please work with a knowledgeable practitioner to get the best care and to avoid making matters worse.
Vata’s qualities are: cold, dry, light, and mobile.
When stress has a Vata component, there is worry, anxiety, and overwhelm. There is an excessive amount of movement in the mind. This causes difficulty with sleep, dry hard rabbit-turd stools, and a confusion of the normal biological functions of the body.
A usual consequence is a digestive fire that is variable and irregular: one minute you are ohmygod-where’s-the-food-starving, the next minute you have no interest in food at all. Another way that this can play out is that you get so distracted by whatever is going on that you forget to eat. (BTW—Pitta types do *not* understand this.)
The way to remedy this is to apply the opposite qualities of warm/hot, moist/oily, heavy, and still/stable to restore balance.
I’ll explain this below.
Pitta’s qualities are: hot, oily, and sharp.
When stress has a Pitta component, there is an excessive amount of heat in the mind. This shows up as being critical, blaming, angry, and intense.
Pitta individuals tend to be competitive, driven, and productivity-oriented. They place an emphasis on getting things done—and done “right.” Their stress comes out when something seems to be “wrong” or is not “on time” per the project plan.
Pittas usually have a strong digestive fire; withhold food from them at your own peril. Thus, they generally don’t lose their appetite. In fact, when they are under stress, their metabolism (and thus desire to eat) increases. However, Pitta types can get so focused on “working the problem” that breaking for a meal feels like an interruption in their flow of getting work done; they will delay eating.
The way to remedy this is to apply the opposite qualities of cool/cold, dry, and smooth.
I’ll explain this below.
Kapha’s qualities are: cool, damp, heavy, and stable.
When stress has a Kapha component, everything slows waaayyyyy down. Biological activities slow to a crawl, and metabolism lowers. Movement of digesting food through the gut moves at a glacial pace, and the digestive fire gets turned down from a nice campfire to a pilot light.
With everything taking longer, the body doesn’t perceive a need to take in more food. And the mental-emotional body may feel a version of depression where it has a difficult time finding motivation.
The way to remedy this is to apply the opposite qualities of warm/hot, dry, light, and mobile.
I’ll explain this below.
In this scenario, the vata person benefits the most from creating stability:
- implementing regular daily routines
- eating warm, cooked, nourishing foods
- doing a gentle yoga practice, daily
- walking in nature, daily
- taking a warm bath, daily
- applying sesame oil to the feet at bedtime, daily
In this scenario, the pitta person benefits the most from cooling off:
- strolling in nature
- taking a restorative yoga class
- eating cooling foods
- drinking peppermint tea
- avoiding alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods
- doing a cooling pranayama breathing exercise
- practicing gratitude
In this scenario, the kapha person benefits the most from creating stability:
- engaging in some strenuous activity
- eating spicy foods
- being spontaneous
- using exotic herbs and spices in all cooking
- lightening up on meal portion sizes a smidge
- engaging with loved ones
Pick any of the above suggestions and implement them. Do what is easy for you. They will work, but you may need to stay consistent with them over a period of time (a few days, maybe?) as you shift your focus away from what is stressing you.
Here is my chance to plug daily self-care practices and routines. I can’t say enough about how they build resilience and support a state of equanimity. Go to our YouTube channel to see videos of some important self-care routines that you can implement now. And, read this blog post about how important daily practices are.