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struggling with appetite loss. please help me...

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I am upping the dose of a medicine for migraines to have a better overall life.
But it diminishes appetite. And for me the effect is severe. My doctor is on it and trying to see if something can be done.
What I'm asking is for hounds to please post your favorite foods and recipies, or even funny food stories :) so that I might feel some inspiration. Getting a meal in and having it stay there is my goal.
Thanks for any kindness and ideas--this is such a good community :D

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  1. Do you have nausea issues too? What kind of foods do you favor? What food says love to you?

    Do you like ginger? I am only a moderate fan of ginger, but I could eat these cookies till I popped, and then eat some more. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... If you want to make them more nutricious, you can sub in some whole grain flour. I've often stirred in a couple of spoonfuls of apple or pear butter. I've converted them to gluten free. Apparently it's a pretty malleable recipe, and cookies have a certain appeal!

    Another comfort food thought - my mom fried day old oatmeal in butter growing up. There is something about that scent, and the butter-crisp exterior, that screams ADD MORE BUTTER and a lashing of maple syrup. This could be tricked out with fruit, dried or fresh, or even made savory.

    I had the most marvelous lunch today - homemade granola with greek yogurt. Totally plain and simple, and amazingly good. I made the granola with coconut oil, so it was coconut-fragrant, and tucked in all kinds of nuts and seeds - chia and pepitas and such. Afterwards I chucked in a handful each of dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries. Would a pan of granola slowly toasting in the oven intrigue you?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Vetter

      That granola sounds amazing and I think I have all the ingredients in my pantry!

      1. re: Vetter

        The other good thing about ginger is it's potent effect as an anti nausea agent. Works better than anything else I've ever used.
        You can buy ginger tea, steep fresh ginger, or just stir about one teaspoon powdered ginger into a cup of hot water and add some sugar.
        I don't know if it'll help with diminished appetite, but it's easy to try.
        My best foods when appetite is gone are spicy and or tangy asian foods. The scent of lots of different flavors mingling makes me hungry every time.
        Sending positive energy and good thoughts your way- I hope this is a very temporary difficulty for you.

      2. First, may I say, I am sorry that you are going through this, but as someone once said, when you are going through Hell, Keep going! (Yeah that was Churchill) Don't stop (no matter how good the food trucks look! *G*)

        Anxiety plays a factor, don't let that defeat you. You will get better.

        I looked at your ChowHound profile and noticed that one of the favorite things I can eat, everyday. every meal all the time, might be one of yours, Soup. So I would always have a cup to sip along side me (simple broths, asian pho, oooh Lobster Bisque! to suggest a few) .

        Recently, a medication that I was prescribed made me very nauseous, irritated my stomach so much that it was difficult to eat. But my soups pulled me through, even though it was often (at the start) a sip by sip battle. The Aromas of the soups helped me alot, and since I really like the Asian flavors, both the ginger and garlic helped me alot. I also found that things more umami rich perked my tastes buds up faster as well. IN fact, a hugely spicy Mexican seafood soup, from my friend's place at one point was the only thing I kept down at the worst point.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          miso is another non-threatening soup and easy as falling off a ladder.

          1. re: hill food

            Agreed! And so has that umami!

            1. re: Quine

              Plus, nearly any type of miso in soup goes well with an egg stirred in. It's one of my favorite things to have when I get a cold, which seems to happen only once every three years or so these days.

        2. Thank you so much for ideas!!! I adore ginger and all things with a nod to international flavors.. Loose granola also sounds wonderful as Mr. Gator would not hover and ask "have you eaten the whole thing?'
          I am so thankful for responses, and I promise I'm drinking my Ensure shakes :D
          Don't yet feel the need to artificially enhance my appetite, but it's early ..
          And to you all, a lot of things sound so good. But putting it in my mouth and swallowing is a different story. uuuggghh!!!!

          1. Wow! so many kind answers since I checked last. it is sleepytime for me, so I'll respond properly in the morning. Thank you all for taking a few mnutes to help a distressed hound :)

            1. Comfort foods - liked the "what food is love?" question. I've been having what passes for warm milk in our house. Upped the ante and using half-n-half mixed with water, just heated with some vanilla and sweetener. It's so comforting and I can sip on it. Since you're trying the Ensure shakes thought that warm liquids might help. Also comfort food for me is tea and toast. Part of the appeal is the ritual of the tea preparation and the smell of the bread toasting. Or make your favorite cookie or cake. Again, the smell may help. Make a cake you can crumble, like a pound cake. Then you can pick up just a crumb or two whenever you pass. Swallowing a morsel at a time may be easier? For me that would be true with fruit as well. A bowl of grapes or cherries, or even morsels of glace fruit at this time of year may be easier to pick at all day as you walk by. And don't forget whatever your mother fed you whenever you weren't feeling well. It was very special to have a soft boiled egg when I was a sick as a kid, and I still make myself one now and then as a special comfort food. Last, distract yourself while you eat. Put the granola next to the TV or computer and munch on it. Whatever works.

              1. I struggled with this too on a particular migraine med. I hope you're able to find a balance that works for you.

                Choose calorie dense foods, like mac & cheese, pb&j, mashed potatoes a big pot of beans and greens, and pack in more calories. Stir an egg or two into the mac & cheese or mashed potatoes, add extra peanut butter to the sandwich, etc.

                I hate to suggest this on a food board, but until you get this under control you need to think about food as a job. Eating is something that has to be done, even if you don't have an appetite right now. Setting a specific schedule of meal & snack times really helped me. And it gave my husband a chance to harass me if I varied :-)

                3 Replies
                1. re: odkaty

                  maybe so katy, but I would hate to let food become a stressor either.

                  1. re: hill food

                    I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Perhaps it's my personality type, but having a set schedule and a great cheerleader, made me strive to reach the main goal of stopping the weight loss.

                    1. re: odkaty

                      odk: if it worked for you that's a really great thing, I'm ornery and contrary, so you can see where that would lead. I always like to hear of success even if it's not the path I would have responded to.

                      and if the mods are around, you were right to cut some of the suggestions, we WERE getting too advice-y on medical issues.

                2. I'm on a stimulant that can make me have no appetite. It's not so much that I'm nauseous or anything, but I have no. desire. to eat. There have been days when I've gone 12 hours without eating and have entirely forgotten about food in that time. And for someone who loves food, that's disturbing...

                  It's only just starting to be spring here, but I've found popsicles and their ilk appeal to me, even when I don't want to eat. Whole Foods has some lovely coconut popsicles under their 365 brand that I live on during the summer. I also have found that really spicy ginger ale with a kick goes down very easily. Not the high fructose corn syrup crap...ginger ale that comes in bottles made with cane sugar and has a bit of burn going down.

                  I also agree with the suggestion for granola. I'm pretty much always up for a bowl with coconut or almond milk, even if I don't want to eat otherwise. And fruit...gorgeous, fresh, delicious fruit. Especially once it is raspberry season.

                  I also find that tea really helps me feel better overall. Fantastic tea is an indulgence in our house and nothing is more of a pleasure than a properly brewed cup of loose leaf tea. I also find I get very excited to try new types, so we'll order lots of different samples. Upton teas (uptontea.com) is great and offers cheap samples. I want to say we have 50+ varieties in the house at the moment. Tea won't give you calories, but the myriad of the flavors may help reignite your taste buds on some of the days that you otherwise might not want to put anything in your mouth.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tazia

                    I had the same issue with a medication. No nausea, but almost complete lack of appetite. Food would sound good to me, but after a few bites I was done, no interest in eating any more. For the first time in my 45 years of life, I was on the border of underweight. What worked for me was nuts and cheese - two calorie-dense, nutritionally valuable foods that I used to eat in small amounts as accents to my salads, etc. - instead I ate as much as I wanted, and my weight stabilized.

                  2. Thanks for more suggestions :) I agree that a regular schedule is a great idea and popsicles do sound pretty decent.
                    I just watched a show on the Cooking Channel theat was all about cheese. It gave me the idea to get started on making up some french onion soup au gratin. Pretty rich for lunch, but screw it, my body needs it. :)-
                    And I know, odkaty, thinking of food as a job when it is such a passion for me and all of us here is a little rough--but hopefully I'll be back to my face stuffing self soon. And in the meantime--at least I'm totally bikini ready for all the pool weather coming up ;)

                    1. While I fully understand the desire to alleviate migraines (I have them too, ugh), it sucks that you are going to have what is often part and parcel of the migraine itself. At least for me, my digestive system including any desire to eat just shuts down when I have a migraine.

                      While not the same thing, I have been undergoing chemotherapy for the past few months and have definitely had times when I've had to make myself eat, along with times when nothing tasted right so I didn't really want to eat much of anything. Add anti-nausea medication to that which shuts down the system, and who wants to add more food there. Right now at times salt is the only thing that appeals to me and regular canned cream of mushroom soup has gotten me through a few meals, same goes for packaged ramen. I have days though that I'm all about eating (what I can taste, anyway). I think sometimes you have to accept that your eating habits are going to change for a while as you adjust to some things.

                      But for some reason, despite all that, since I started this, I've become engrossed in food blogs, aggregator photo sites (like tastespotting or tastologie) and food shows on TV. The visual gets me motivated to not only eat, but also cook sometimes. Maybe this would work better than print ?

                      I hope for you this is a temporary thing as you adjust to new medication. The whole side effects may lessen over time. Until then, maybe the best you can do is adding extras to your ensure.

                      1. Folks, we've had to remove a number of posts from this thread offering medical advice to the original poster. Such replies really aren't appropriate for a breezy discussion forum like Chowhound -- we aren't the place to come for advice about managing illness.

                        Please keep your replies focused on favorite foods and recipes that will help the original poster eat better, as off-topic posts will be removed.

                        1. Eat whatever sounds good to you whenever it sounds good-- even if it's something that non-medicated folk might think was strange (breakfast at dinner, chicken-noodle soup at breakfast time) -- Indulge your appetite when it happens to strike! Couscous at 3 am? Go for it.

                          "Unusual" calorie intake is way better for you at the end of the day than no calorie intake.

                          1. Try keeping little things around the house--like nuts or cheese bites or such--and take a tiny taste about once an hour. It may be that the thought of a full meal is bad but a lttle bit once in a while is tolerable. Try to make this protein or high carb rather than sweets.
                            You are very wise to get help before your lack of appitite makes your body ill. I hope you find the balance you need.

                            1. Thank you all for sharing your great ides! Right now, mostly soups are getting me by. I made some nice homemade ramen last night after giving up on the french onion soup idea. That seemed to go down ok in very small quantites as did my pho the day before. Going to head out and pick out a few nice cheeses and good crackers for a calorie rich snack.
                              And looking at food sites and blogs, does now and again spark a little inkling of hunger. I'm going to try the meatball recipe from here today:
                              http://www.chow.com/food-news/76156/v...
                              Very creative and full of asian flavors that are comfort to me. I'll make my meatballs mini to float in some soup.
                              One nice thing coming of this is that once I'm past this adjustment period, mr. gator has promised me a long weekend in New Orleans to eat :) I've never been there--and it sure is a lot of motivation to get that food in my belly.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: alliegator

                                never? you're going to love it, go check the NOLA board, it's pretty active.

                                1. re: hill food

                                  Really, never. With a passport that has enough extra pages to look like a small town's phonebook, I have been neglecting something awesome an hour long flight away. Loved looking over the NOLA board and can't wait until I'm on track to get the trip underway :)

                                  1. re: alliegator

                                    just take it slow, NOLA is a marathon, not a sprint. hope you're up for it soon.

                                    1. re: alliegator

                                      make sure you bring the clothes from your pre-lack-of-appetite days -- you'll need every extra inch you can find! We seriously considered the possibility of just wearing our suitcases home, as after a week of NOLA chow, zippers and buttons were threatening to go on strike.

                                      1. re: alliegator

                                        Haha :) I'll be sure to bring clothes of all sizes!! Or maybe just a nice burlap sack with a hole for my head. Mmmm, seafood...

                                    2. re: alliegator

                                      The "mini" idea is very good. I know myself, if I have little appetite, chewing doesn't much appeal to me. So filling soups with tiny things that can easily be slurped down with the broth, works well (I did this with little star noodles)

                                      IF you can stomach it, and because you say asian flavors, stir a bit of peanut butter into your noodles for protein.

                                      1. re: alliegator

                                        I forgot about broth-based soups. I ate a lot of those. You can freeze the broth in small portions and add fresh vegetables, protein, etc at meal time. And this transports well for meals during the workday.

                                      2. right before and after my mom had brain surgery she didn't want to eat annnnny thing. The ony thing that seemed to seem do it for her was matzo brei. I dont why but It really helped her. It helped so much we started calling Magical Matzo Brei

                                        • matzos
                                        • eggs(one or 2 depending on how much you are making)
                                        ••Salt to taste
                                        •White pepper to taste
                                        • butter(for pan) some people use chicken fat
                                        some people stir a little milk with the eggs
                                        mix up the eggs
                                        boil up some water- pour over matzos to soften becareful they dont break apart...
                                        dip into egg
                                        sprinkle with salt pepper
                                        fry up in pan til golden and crispy...

                                        1. You've gotten some wonderful ideas as far as incorporating calorie dense foods, and I'll post a few good comforting recipes in just a bit, but before I forget:
                                          Something that can really stimulate your appetite is to read about food. Reviews, travel guides, cooking magazines, you name it. There have been times when, for medical reasons, my appetite hasn't been what it usually is. I asked for some reading material from home, and for some reason Mr. brought me a copy of "Roadfood" by the Vice-lieutenants of the Road Trip, Jane and Michael Stern. It really turned the trick; especially reading about foods and regions that I just love. It gave me some cravings, and luckily enough I was in a hospital with an amazingly good, to-order food service. It's worth a try, for sure, and as I said I'll post some things that have worked recently within the family to combat a "no-appetite" situation recently.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mamachef

                                            I've been doing something similar....watching all the cooking shows that I can. I didn't have TV for 3 years, so I'm able to catch up with reruns I haven't seen. I don't get hungry and there's only so many things I can't eat, so I get ideas for how to make those ingredients more interesting.

                                          2. I have been meaning to post this very same topic too for a while, having been struggling with similar issues for almost two years. I hesitated because I knew the discussion would inevitably lead to details on medication and illnesses. I respect that Chowhound requires to keep the discussion in scope, but I wish I had the chance to take a snapshot of possibly helpful details for myself before they were gone. After all, I do agree that this community is the best for such advice, given that we here are more generally open-minded, adventurous for solutions, and understanding.

                                            Food had been one of my long-time passions in life, and losing the appetite for it had been such a downer. My heart goes out to those struggling with similar issues.

                                            Okay, sharing what worked for me from a purely food-focused perspective. I do not have recipes to share per se, because I believe that at this point, it is a matter of strategy, maybe with suggestions of some elements of food to try.

                                            Almost a year ago, I made it my goal to regain the more than 10% of the weight I had lost from my already slim frame. While I knew it would be work, I also knew I should not try too hard because I still wanted eating to be pleasurable.

                                            I was extremely fortunate to have my daughter's grandparents cook lunch and dinner for me for a few weeks. Both of them were very good cooks, and even when sick, I found that being able to be seated at the dinner table together with good company, and having food lovingly prepared and presented, really helped. I could only tuck in very little at a time, but it does add up. I think their habit of always drinking with dinner, even if it is a few sips at a time, also helped too.

                                            If you have the chance to travel and is even fit enough to do so, a change of environment that offers good food certainly helps. You can make it into an excuse to splurge on foods that you normally do not have much of, or to try new things and new recipes. While recuperating, I was also fortunate enough to be offered to stay in an apartment in France for a period of time. Being limited to mostly supermarkets, I splurged on things like whole saucisson, all kinds of cured ham, tripe-based deli, egg custard desserts, tasty cuts of beef, skin-on duck breasts and the occasional foie gras. I could not have a lot at a time, so it helped to listen to my body, on what it wanted.

                                            It also helped that I stocked up on a huge variety of different kinds of foods, mostly in small quantities, because I would have no clue what I could take at any moment. For example, I almost completely lost my sweet tooth, as well as my taste for most types of cheeses (which was quite sad while in France). I found that I could only eat the relatively aged and dry ones, and had to skip the brie and the chevres.

                                            Like others pointed out, soups may help too. I experimented a lot with the spices used in Vietnamese pho broths (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger etc.). At that time I had lost my sense of smell and probably used so much that the aroma was probably bordering on being offensive! Another appetizing combination I liked was bay leaf, black pepper and lots of lemon juice.

                                            I also agree other fellow CHs that umami helped a lot, especially when it comes relatively dry and compact -- for me it came in the form of cured meats, parmesan and romano cheese, cave-aged cheddar and gouda (must be so aged it is no longer creamy to be palatable to me). I sprinkled powdered cheese liberally on crackers, popcorn and the like. Japanese type rice seasonings too. Strangely, though, I developed an aversion to soy sauce. Of course everyone is different, it does not hurt to experiment.

                                            I also experimented enough to know what natural supplements seem to help for me. But I understand it belongs to another board (and in that case, does anyone know where I can go for that, where there are similarly-minded, creative, adventurous and caring folks?)

                                            Hope this helps, and thanks for all those sharing their tips and experience!

                                            1. Thank you vil for your well thought out post. It certainly helps to hear from someone who has been there! And thanks to everyone that took the time to post.
                                              I am showing some improvement in that food is staying down. And I'm not rely relying on soups as much. I'm cooking for mr. gator and am making little portions of those regular foods for myself. Roasted snapper and some chicken kiev went down especially well :) As did some tasty saffron rice.
                                              Today I'm going to go cookbook shopping and get some new inspiration. As long as food looks good and still is interesting to me--that's a good thing!

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                oh yes it is.

                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                  I have been thinking about you over the past week. So glad to hear things are improving for you!

                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                    Yeah!

                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                      Glad you are feeling better...try plain boiled pealed potato.. either warm with some butter (unsalted though) - or cold with a smear of mayo and pepper.. settles your tummy and has something in them similar (naturally) to dopamine..which helps your mental health a little..
                                                      trust you will continue to feel better - migraines..! so painful..

                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                        YAY -- having an appetite is underrated!