If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a common practice to cut down on your food intake. It’s best to do this under the watchful eye of a dietitian, as controlling your diet is more about eating on time and eating healthy to keep your body weight under control. Cutting down on the amount of food you eat without developing a diet plan that will work for you can lead to a dangerous eating disorder.
With a busy life, it can be very easy to skip meals and under-eat. Beyond that, life events or stressors can reduce appetite and lead to decreased food intake. Many people are also trapped in a cycle of chronic dieting with weight loss attempts, or some struggle with disordered eating in the form of food restriction or health obsession. Beyond the obvious sign which is weight loss, there are a number of signs which are more subtle but still affect your quality of life. These can happen as a result of chronically undereating even if you aren’t losing weight due to a process called metabolic adaptation which happens when your total daily energy expenditure reduces to match your energy intake from food. Your body will not function properly because it is trying to conserve energy.
Some possible signs of undereating include:
- Consistent low energy levels, especially if you have adequate sleep and are not overly stressed.
- Slow digestion and constipation
- Constantly feeling hungry
- Feeling moody and irritable
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Feeling dizzy when moving around or shaky in between meals
- Losing your period or your cycle length becoming disrupted
- Slowed progress with workouts
- Feeling cold all the time
- Hair loss, brittle nails, dull skin
- Cravings and constant thoughts about food
If you’re tempted to undereat, try following these tips instead:
- Eat smaller, frequent meals throughout the day.
- Always have a snack.
- Eat snacks high in protein and fiber. They will keep you full longer.
- Plan your meals in advance or prepare them the night before.
- Make a schedule for the week to avoid overbooking yourself or falling behind.
- Set an alarm to ring at lunchtime if you are going to be running around all day.
- Make a lunch date. You cannot skip a meal if you have already made plans with friends or family.
If you experience the symptoms listed above, first make an appointment with your primary care provider to rule out anything else that may be going on. Next, consider making an appointment with a dietitian at Behavioral Nutrition to help increase your food intake and prevent an eating disorder from developing. Discussing your specific situation with a dietitian is a good way to get healthy eating advice tailored to your specific needs. The team at Behavioral Nutrition uses a holistic approach to help you find a sustainable diet that’s healthy and includes foods you enjoy. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians.