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Depressed and Lost Appetite

I am going through a painful divorce and have found it extremely difficult at times to have an appetite or enjoy food. I assume this is because I ordinarily love to cook and eat, and associate those pleasures with happiness. Anyone else go through something similar?

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  1. I have no advice other than to wish you well. I hope you have friends and family to help and support you during this difficult time.

    1. Like a bad cold, this, too, shall pass.

      1. Nicole- I just watched this as I was surfing Yahoo and thought of you.


        One thing she says in the video if is find one thing that is special or amazing each day-it might even be that bite of Fage yogurt with honey.

        Maybe you can find that one thing or taste that can bring you memory of joy or a sense of happiness

        1. Absolutely, Nicole. I experienced exactly the same thing, in exactly the same circumstance. Nothing but coffee and water for the best part of two months...nothing tasted good.

          Not the way to shed 36 pounds in six weeks...not healthy.

          Please hang in there and try to get yourself to make something you love...something easy and delicious.

          On the other side of MY experience, I gained a wonderful wife and stepdaughter....could not be happier.

          You will get there, also.

          Please stay strong....and healthy.

          1. I'm sorry to hear this. I can relate on some level-in times of grief/sadness/stress, my appetite is shot. In the short term, i found smoothies (boosted with various raw vegetables and supplements) were less taxing than "real food".

            I wish you well in the coming year. Take care.

            1. I've gone through the same thing. Milkshakes got me through the worst of it. I just didn't have the energy/motivation to cook anything and milkshakes were an easy way to get some calories and keep they hunger at bay.

              If you want to make an effort to be healthy, smoothies would also work.

              1. I'm so sorry you are in pain.

                When I divorced it was the same. I had no interest in food what so ever. I was a wreck on every level.

                A friend read me the riot act and basically said that I needed to simply look at food as fuel for a while. Running on empty simply was setting me up for the experience taking a harder toll.

                I began with simple foods - toast, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, egg salad, tomato soup.

                During this period I met a new (platonic) friend. He had the patience and caring heart to help me slowly come back to life. He was an excellent cook and would coax me to join him for a meal after our walks, His enthusiasm for life and food helped me begin to see the world anew.

                I would have regrouped eventually but I think this amazing soul helped me get there faster and come out more whole.

                Be gentle and treat yourself as you would a treasured friend. Find something comforting to eat. It will get better.

                1. Loss of appetite is a sign of depression. So is loss of interest in things, lack of the ability to concentrate, sleep problems (too much or not enough)...

                  Certainly you have reason enough to be depressed, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth a talk with your doctor if things don't improve.

                  1. For me stressful times lead to overeating bad foods. One thing I did during my divorce several years ago was to work on my body. I started exercising daily, ate better, lost weight. Physical and emotional well being are closely related. When you look better you'll have a more positive outlook on life and you'll feel better emotionally. Be the best that you can be and good things will come into your life. I'm proof of that. I now have another wife who's much better than my first. As far as cooking goes,because of diabetes I spent a good deal of last year reducing starchy carbohydrates in my diet by tweaking recipes. My blood sugar has improved as a result. Good luck!

                    1. My younger son is going through a similar experience. His partner for 18 years found himself a new boy-toy half his age and my son is devastated. He moved in with us and locks himself in his room all day coming out only for dinner, a dr appt. or a support group meeting. He's slowly coming out of it and you will, too.

                      1. After my dad passed away my mom mainly subsisted on eggo waffles with peanut butter on them, and chocolate ice cream. She said nothing else sounded good.

                        So, I think it's totally normal to have that happen. I do agree w/ others' suggestions that it might be helpful to find someone to talk to, a counselor, psychologist, or doctor.

                        1. Yes. Not because of a divorce, but another very stressful situation. I completely lost my appetite for about 6 weeks. If I tried to force myself to eat, it came right back up. When I put a forkful of solid food in my mouth, it felt like a foreign substance, like it didn't belong there at all and I had to spit it out. Milkshakes, smoothies and chicken broth with a little rice were my diet until I was better. I started to see a nutritionist who helped me with recipes to maximize calories and nutritive value. I still lost a lot of weight and it was pretty scary. If you don't feel any better in a couple weeks, you should see your doctor.

                          1. Sounds like my divorce years ago. It took two and one-half years (even with no kids) and I went from 427 pounds to 208 lbs. I lost all interest in food and cooking. My secretary had to remind me to eat lunch at least twice a week. I also found that I was spend way too much time at the gym to avoid being in the empty house.

                            A year after my divorce was final, I married again, resumed cooking and enjoying food. I gained about 25 lbs that first year of 2nd marriage and have maintained that weight since. I still love to cook and eat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bagelman01

                              Even though it took 2 1/2 years, the important thing is you made an effort by getting out to meet and be with others instead of wallowing. You didn't waste too much time before remarrying. The weight loss was a good thing,

                            2. I react the same way to intense stress or sadness. Be kind to yourself, seek company that's supportive of you.

                              1. I don't know what your live/work situation is, but my dog really helped me. Having to get out of bed to feed and walk the dog really helped me make it through to the other side. There is life after divorce, I promise.

                                I lost my sense of smell, so coming back to food was really hard. I discovered I was much better at cooking for other people. So, I would offer to make dinner for friends. I would bRing cooked food to their places (cooking and cleaning was too much!)

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Kalivs

                                  Pets can be so therapeutic. My Golden has helped me get through severe depression. I think it was the obligation to another creature and the requirement to get outside, that really helped.

                                  1. re: globocity

                                    I agree! My grandmother recently passed away and most days I don't want to leave the house let alone get up but the rambunctious kitten is often the reason I get up. He deserves to be taken care of and if I can't feel like I can manage much else, I always make sure to make sure he's OK.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      My condolences for the loss of your grandmother. I am glad to hear your kitten provided a ray of sunshine.

                                      1. re: globocity

                                        Thank you. It's been a rough 2 weeks so far and the holidays haven't been the best but I'm trying to live in the good and happy times and kick myself out of bed even if it's only because I need to feed the cat and I know my grandmother wouldn't want me to be sad. She was elated that I finally decided to adopt him and loved him dearly so he's like a little piece of her running around the house all the time...attacking the Christmas tree!

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          Just wanted to share a story I heard on "This American Life" a few years ago: A woman went to visit her aging widowed mother and awoke in the morning to her mother's voice, times two. Her mother had acquired a parrot "So I'd have somebody to talk to". The parrot had mimiced the mom's voice to perfection.

                                          When the mother died, the daughter got the bird. She says she feels blessed to live with the sound of her mother's voice in the house. And if it gets too quiet, the bird says "you're awfully quiet - is something wrong?"

                                          Best wishes and best of luck to the OP - it appears that there are a lot of CHs pulling for you.

                                          1. re: WNYamateur

                                            Wow that's a wonderful story :) Have a wonderful New Year!

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              You, too. And yer little cat, too! :-)

                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                            ". . .and I know my grandmother wouldn't want me to be sad."
                                            What a beautiful and wise outlook!

                                            Humans are resiliant. We eventually find joy and laughter again after the death of loved ones. That includes the passing of our pets.
                                            Cheers and a merry new year.

                                            1. re: globocity

                                              Very true, we bounce back although it takes us longer than we hope but often when you look back you learn great lessons from your darkest moments. The days are more filled with smiles and memories these days but I still have plenty moments of sadness and tears. Today was a pretty rough day as my grandmother's death certificate arrived, but I forced myself to turn it around and remember that she passed very peacefully and is resting comfortably. I hope she's watching TV as she was an avid football and basketball fan :) Thank you and a merry new year to you as well.

                                  2. My heart goes out to you Nicole; I've been in your shoes and if it had not been for my kids at that time, I probably wouldn't have cooked at all. As it was, I didn't eat and barely cooked like I should have for the kids.

                                    You have to get some nourishment; broth/soups, yogurt, pudding/jello, shakes or smoothies will suffice to start because they're light and will also serve to keep you from getting dehydrated.

                                    I don't know your circumstance but I can tell you that it will get better. When it happened to me, I didn't think I would ever get through it but it does get better eventually.

                                    Focus on yourself; do things you enjoy like making a special dish and invite family/friends to partake. Re-evaluate and reflect on life up to this point and decide what you need to do, if anything, that will help moving beyond this point easier then go for it! All the best to you this new year.

                                    1. I'm sorry, Nicole. I second the idea of treating food as fuel. Feed your body healthy, nourishing food - soup, sandwiches, etc. doesn't have to be complicated. If budget permits, set up "dates" with good friends for lunch or dinner. You need you network now and exploring interesting eats will help to distract you. Hugs.

                                      1. I don't have any helpful advice to add here but I wish you the best in this trying time. Hopefully it will get better for you.

                                        1. I have been widowed, not divorced and there are similarities -- the marriage is dead. All those familiar things are no longer valid; transitioning from being a 'we' to being a 'me' is a painful journey. I learned that treating myself well, as a person deserving of all things good, was my saving grace. Even when I did not feel like eating, I tried to find something as a treat. Be good to yourself, treat yourself to small joys. Time wounds all heels and heals all wounds.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Sherri

                                            I agree! I had a really bad break up a few years ago that nearly ripped me apart and at the end of the day I had to focus on treating myself well. As my grandmother always told me "if you don't treat yourself well, who will?" It sounds awful but sometimes it really helps. Also, it was during that time that I learned to focus on the "small joys." Even getting coffee on a quiet Sunday morning and gazing up to a clear sunny sky would be enough to help me feel better for a little while.

                                          2. Absolutely - I was nauseous most of the time when going through my divorce a few years ago. I dropped 20 lbs in four months. (Ha - I called it the "divorce diet" but I wouldn't recommend it.)

                                            Hugs to you - you WILL make it to the other side and feel like your old self again. It just takes time, like anything else.

                                            1. Yes, I went through the same thing. Wondered if I'd ever rekindle my interest in cooking again. I did but it took time.

                                              One thing I remember was that I wouldn't feel hungry but would get very tired and sluggish and if I hadn't eaten in a long time, would eat something. It was surprising how much better it made me feel to have my energy go up from the fuel.

                                              Be kind to yourself and eat what you will find easy to get down. And remember, you will get through the tunnel of pain! The light gets closer every day.

                                              1. You are really very bright to start in this forum, and hopefully not end your search for support. You do need it, on so many levels, as most have said will help you through this trying time.
                                                For me, my divorce took 6 years, we then reconciled to be normal humans, for almost 2 years and then my ex passed away 18 months ago.
                                                A double shot, but through it all, many friends said "eat your protein" if nothing else.
                                                I hope it works out for you, because for some to stay in a toxic relationship , can be worse than no nourishment at all.
                                                By the way, since I felt so crapy during this time, I actually tried some fast foods, that I swore I would, and never have had, like Taco Bell. Occasionally, I will now have some, and it actually reminds me of how far I have come from being so low.
                                                Please take care of yourself. Warm wishes for a Happy New Year!

                                                1. Sorry to hear that. On the rare occasions when I'm not feeling like eating, kind of basic, bland food is the easiest to choke down. Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese, eggs and toast. The less prep, the better if you're not feeling motivated.

                                                  1. I just recently separated from my husband although we're not divorcing. I had no appetite for two weeks and lost a goodly amount of weight. As noted below, I tried to just eat the protein but soon those mashed potatoes with a roast were appealing and now I'm scarfing down everything in my sight!

                                                    1. a few years ago I went through a relatively painless (as best as could be expected) break up after 17 years together and even though amicable sent me into shutdown mode. I ate off small plates and only stuff I wanted to eat. I'm still getting back in the swing and have to stop myself from snapping at people who feel the need to comment on my appetite. "I eat, just not when you're around" or at any one sitting. I've changed my social habits to avoid the situation. don't do that, it solves nothing and you have to keep a small cooler in your car for the leftovers when you do go out with friends.

                                                      cut yourself slack. give it time. the advice upstream of just keeping it simple and easy is good. when the hurt starts easing, then start cooking. don't set a date, just when it hits you. start for yourself and try those wacky things you always wanted to try for others but never had a chance to perfect before.

                                                      1. I've been hesitating to add my voice here: I lost my husband three years ago, not to divorce or death, but to a severe stroke which left him badly compromised. So I do know how terrible loss can feel, at least in one of its many permutations.

                                                        While was in the hospital for three months, my diet consisted almost solely of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread. I'd make one every morning, carry it around and take a bite or two when I got really hungry. Nothing at all appealed, but people were bugging me to eat so it was something at least (thank goodness for family and friends!). it was like I lost my soul, me the person who planned her day around every meal. I couldn't even come here for awhile because I lost all interest in food. Didn't seem important anymore. It was the one time in my life that I wished I didn't enjoy eating so much.

                                                        He came home late spring, but his appetite was drastically changed and he didn't have any enthusiasm for food anymore. Of all the things he lost, this broke my heart the most. But then somehow, when fall arrived and the weather got colder, suddenly I started craving pot roast and meatballs and got back in the kitchen after six months of avoidance. And he started liking homemade food again, which helped.

                                                        What I'm trying to say in my long winded way is, you can't force it or rush it, but your appetite will return, as sure as the swallows come back to Capistrano. It's just a natural part of grieving that you have to go through. It will pass when the time is right.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          wow coll, there's a lot to be found in that post.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            Thank you to everyone who has responded. Some of the advice sounds spot on- smoothies seem like a good option, and I do have a doctor. Pets unfortunately are out due to allergies, but my friends and family have not let me be alone. Thanks again.

                                                            1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                              I had the same sense of deep loss when my twenty year old son was killed in a car crash caused by a careless driver.
                                                              No appetite and no interest in life anymore.
                                                              Not to get too deep in the weeds but IMO if you allow yourself to grieve when that is your only emotion it's important that you do that.
                                                              Don't try to sublimate your feelings. Let them happen.
                                                              Like the other poster offered try to be attentive for moments when something can bring you a smile or a fond memory and let yourself experience that moment.
                                                              I don't believe that 'time heals'. It doesn't. Time only puts distance between the hurt and the moment we are now living in. That distance makes pain less intense and metaphorically allows other feelings and experiences to move between 'back then' and now.
                                                              If you've always enjoyed eating something special have it on hand for when you feel like 'comfort food'. I used to always keep a few boxes of Kraft dinner and Ketchup at hand.
                                                              The fact that you're a CH is a sign of what a good person you are. I mean that as silly as it may sound. People who like food like most other things in life.
                                                              Hang in there!

                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                The loss of one's child...said to be the most painful of all.
                                                                How very sorry I am to hear of your loss.

                                                                Your advice, to allow oneself to grieve, is so right-on. Certain cultures tend to repress emotions so I find it helpful to encourage each other to go through the grieving process.

                                                        2. I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through. It won't make you feel better but it's common to let it affect your appetite. Come to think of it, I don't know anyone who goes through grief/sadness w/out letting it affect their appetite in some way. For now, eating is sustenance--hard for us who normally live to eat but eating to live is important and will help you feel better. I can't wait to have you post when you're better about rediscovering your love for food, eating, cooking. And I know it'll happen for you.

                                                          1. Oh gosh...accept my well wishes. Been there and done that. Divorce is awful.

                                                            One thing that helped me heal many years ago when I was in a similar place was dining out. Every two weeks (sometimes every week, if the budget allowed), I would pick a restaurant for a solo dinner engagement. Sometimes I chose a white-tablecloth room, sometimes a more casual place. I would make reservations two days in advance at the (higher end rooms), plan an outfit, and make my night out a small event.

                                                            I love to read, so I always brought a book, or whatever magazine I was reading at the time. Vanity Fair was (still is) a favorite, especially before Dunne passed away.

                                                            Dining solo, and turning the evening into something I had to plan, gave me something to look forward to each week, and helped regenerate my personal happiness. One of the best elements of this time was the process of learning to LOVE getting dressed up to the nines, for myself. Being an avid food gal, I started to love the anticipation of a new restaurant..it deepened my love for all things gastronomic, and became a source of happiness during a cruddy time.

                                                            Are you physically active? Have you ever training for anything grueling? Like a marathon? A long training run does wonders for the mind, and will definitely encourage a healthy appetite.

                                                            Once again, my best well wishes to you! This will pass, I promise! The tides WILL turn.

                                                            1. What are your plans for tonight? I'm making a pot roast with my parents! WooHoo!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: GreekChorus

                                                                I had a surprising rough night with spontaneous crying about my grandmother. I'm making rib roast with myself and the cat! Woohoo!!

                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                  And lots of Lemon Drops! I'll be thinking of you! xo

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    Spontaneous crying can be sooooo cathartic. I find myself doing that with some red wine and sappy music.
                                                                    Here's to your grandmother. L'Chaim.

                                                                    1. re: globocity

                                                                      I'm the queen of spontaneous crying, my parents are the same way so I got it naturally I guess. But yes I usually just let myself cry and somehow when I run out of snot and tears I feel better.

                                                                2. Please seek counseling and ask for support from friends and family during this difficult time.
                                                                  Disinterest in food is part of the despression, yet can also be a catch 22 in that without energy and nourishment it is difficult to deal with the symptoms.

                                                                  For right now look at food as your medicine, something your body needs for energy.
                                                                  Foods like soups, smoothies, and oatmeal may be easier to tolerate. Markets like whole foods often have a great selection of pre-prepared options as well.
                                                                  Please take care and know this too will pass.

                                                                  1. Yes. I was divorced years ago and experienced the same thing. I would barely eat - maybe finish something off the kids' plates. The good news was that I lost a lot of weight easily, looked great, and then got my appetite back.

                                                                    You'll be fine.

                                                                    1. Oh, yeah, it happens. There's no magic cure. It just takes time.

                                                                      My personal method, which is not for everyone, involves a steady regimen of drinks and drugs. The munchies can be a powerful motive for me to eat.

                                                                      The longest I've lost my appetite due to my emotional state was a couple weeks, during which the most I would cook would be to make some eggs or assemble a sandwich, and even that was too much effort for the payoff most days. So I'd order a pizza and have two or three slices over the course of a day, or is get a sandwich from subway and eat a bit whenever I got ravenous. Didn't really matter what it tasted like, it was fuel.

                                                                      Everything returns to equilibrium, eventually. I know you like to cook and eat well, as I have encountered your many thoughtful posts over my time here. That doesn't disappear forever. So simplify for the time being and get your enjoyment how you can. That's what it is really about. Life is short. Enjoy it. And always remember, the only reason you aren't partying is because you aren't having a party.

                                                                      1. I hope that you are hanging there as much as you can. These days I seem to vacillate between no appetite whatsoever and days when I can't stop eating, both are very frustrating but it's helped me to 1) just let myself go along with whatever my appetite happens to be that day and know that it will even itself out later and 2) allow myself time to think, alone time is not always helpful to everyone but for me it really helps me think and to focus on doing things that make me happy and trying to some pleasure even if it's something small like a movie or browsing the internet; for me it's easier to reflect and heal when I have time and space

                                                                        1. So sorry to hear about this. I had a similar experience about 6 years ago and for several months during that time, I ate very little. When I did eat, it was junk (I recall many evenings spent eating Doritos and watching tv in bed). I lost about 20 pounds.

                                                                          During that time, I still liked to buy groceries for some reason but never wanted to make food for myself.

                                                                          It took me awhile to bounce back to a new normal but it eventually happened; and let's face it going to therapy helped too. I started eating normally and eventually had a new boyfriend (who is now my husband) who adores all things food and I felt like a new person.

                                                                          Honestly, it probably took me a year to recover. Everyone is different so don't rush yourself. Good luck.

                                                                          1. I am absolutely floored by the strength of my fellow 'hounds.

                                                                            I lost thirty pounds in two months following a stressful event in my life about five years ago. Nothing, including food, gave me joy. In addition to grief counseling, I found it helpful to make sure that when I ate, it was stuff that was nutritionally packed with a lot of bounce to the ounce. Instead of mindlessly eating a couple of bites of coffee roll in the morning, I made sure to eat a hard boiled egg. At lunch time, I'd eat a handful of almonds and a yogurt.

                                                                            It does get better... you find a new normal. Puffin said a lot of wise things about time. For me, it was like how the body reacts to an embedded splinter...the splinter, like the pain, remains, but as the splinter is encapsulated in the body to make the pain bearable, time makes the loss more bearable.

                                                                            Do what you need to do, Nicole. You will be okay. You will be happy. Hugs to you.

                                                                            1. Nicole, I hope you are doing better. I've been reading this thread, as I'm going through this as well (not a divorce, but the end of a long-term relationship). Even though my (ex) boyfriend and I weren't married or didn't live together, we did have many years as a unit and I just don't have the interest in food and cooking as I have in the past. It's been going on for months, so the initial shock (when I got very depressed and lost all interest in food) has passed, what has replaced it is a profound sadness (and yes, the occasional therapeutic cry). Still don't have my cooking mojo back, so I have decided to throw a dinner party next weekend, hopefully to (re)spark my interest in cooking and entertaining. The appetite is back somewhat, but the joy of food is not. I know this will eventually pass, but just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

                                                                              Wish I could give you a hug.

                                                                              1. alcohol always seem to work for me but don't make it a habit.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Monica

                                                                                  Agreed. And on a more x-rated level, the best way to get over someone is to get on top of someone else.

                                                                                2. I recently lost my husband and went through the same lack of interest in food. Believe it or not, things do get better and so will your appetite.
                                                                                  Keep busy!! I'm retired so I didn't have my work. I started volunteering. It's amazing how helping others screws your head back on straight.