woman with various desserts on table overeating herself

How Does Your Mental Health Affect Your Food Appetite

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  • Mental health can have a significant impact on our eating habits.
  • Anxiety and depression can lead to changes in your appetite because of the chemical changes in the brain.
  • Stress can cause people to crave unhealthy foods and lead to overeating or under-eating.
  • Eating disorders are severe conditions that require professional treatment.
  • Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding/eating disorders are common types of eating disorders.

Food and mental health- these two are closely related to one another. Often, people overlook that their mental health is impacting their dietary habits. Understanding the biological and psychological factors affecting our eating patterns is essential to sustain healthy well-being. Please read below to understand the connection between mental health and our food appetite and how one’s mental health can impact their eating habits.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are emotional states that can disrupt our body’s internal balance. These states of mind can lead to dietary changes, triggering a loss or gain of appetite, which can impact our overall health.

Anxiety and depression can create chemical changes in the brain that can make certain foods appealing while leading to a loss of interest in other foods. It is essential to be mindful of what you eat to reduce the risk of developing mental health issues in the long run.


Stress is a response to various stimuli, and it can trigger a surge of hormones and chemicals that can disturb your food appetite. For some people, stress can lead to an increase in food consumption, while for others, it can lead to a reduction in need.

Individuals who struggle with stress may crave unhealthy foods, such as sweets and comfort food, causing significant inflammation inside the body. One way to tackle stress eating is to practice mindfulness – being aware of our emotions and simply taking a deep breath before reaching for that sugary snack.

Eating disorders

woman with apple dont want to eat

Eating Disorder is a severe condition that involves intense emotions, attitudes, and behaviors towards food and body weight. Eating disorder patients can develop various patterns of disordered eating, including binge eating, restricting food intake, and purging. People who struggle with eating disorders require professional treatment to help reduce symptoms and promote long-term recovery.

Treatment for this condition may also vary, but in most cases, inpatient treatment programs for eating disorders can significantly help patients to change their relationship with food and understand the underlying causes of their eating disorders. To understand more about eating disorders, here are the common types you need to know:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a condition characterized by self-starvation and extreme weight loss. People who suffer from this disorder have an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image. They often see themselves as overweight, even when they are already underweight. Other symptoms of anorexia nervosa include food avoidance, obsession with body weight and shape, and excessive exercise.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves binge eating followed by purging through vomiting, laxatives, or exercise. People with this disorder tend to feel out of control during binge eating episodes and fear gaining weight. They often eat to the point of discomfort and then purge to try and get rid of the calories.

Binge Eating Disorder

The defining feature of binge eating disorder is the repeated consumption of large quantities of food within a brief timeframe. Unlike bulimia nervosa, people with binge eating disorders do not engage in purging behaviors afterward. People with binge eating disorder feel a loss of control and experience distress after binge eating episodes.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders

OSFED is an eating disorder that does not meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder but still poses a significant risk to a person’s health. Examples of OSFED include atypical anorexia nervosa, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome.


woman taking a pill with water

Certain psychiatric medications that treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can affect our appetite differently. Some patients who take medication may experience an increase in need, while others may have a loss of appetite or even nausea. It is crucial to communicate with your doctor if you are experiencing an appetite change when starting medication- they may be able to advise a different drug or modify the dosage.

The Bottom Line

You must be conscious of your daily habits regarding food and mental health. Recognizing the link between your eating habits and emotions can help prevent serious health issues in the long run. Exploring healthy eating patterns and practicing mindfulness, such as taking deep breaths, staying hydrated, and sleeping well, can help manage your mood and maintain your physical health.

If you are experiencing signs of mental health disorders or disordered eating patterns, seeking help from a professional is the first step to receiving proper treatment and regaining control of your mental and physical health.

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