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Garga

Need to eat MORE????

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My dh lost a bunch of weight and started exercising about a year and a half ago to get healthy.  He’s been doing great—he lost all the weight he needed to lose and is feeling better physically.

But he has realized recently that he’s only getting about 1200 calories a day when he should be getting about 2000.  He’s worried that it isn’t healthy to get so few calories a day. 

The thing is that he’s gotten used to eating small amounts of food (instead of gorging like he used to on things like chips and huge burgers before he took his health seriously.). So, now he can eat a hearty salad with grilled chicken and feel full, whereas before that would have been the appetizer for the main meal followed by some dessert.

He hasn’t been eating too few calories until about a month or so ago.  Until then, he was getting the daily recommended amount for a man of his age/size.  But in the past month, he’s realized he’s probably not eating a healthy amount.  He doesn’t want to starve himself or have medical problems from not getting enough nourishment, but he’s just not as hungry as he used to be.

Anyone ever had this problem?  Anyone know if he should worry?  Or should we just listen to his body and not worry about eating more or less?  Or should he go ahead and try to find a way to add more healthy calories to his diet?  And how would he do that?  Extra grilled chicken on the salad?

Edited by Garga
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He can just increase the good fats in what he is eating, like more avocado or oil on the salad or some butter with the green beans - that way he isn’t adding bulk but some extra caloric content.  Works great for a lot of people 🙂

I am of the opinion that if someone isn’t hungry and isn’t feeling like they’re weak, cold, or not getting enough nutrition, they’re probably just fine.  The human body likes homeostasis and not everyone has the same caloric needs, especially older men and women.

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For health, I would concentrate more on high quality, nutrient dense foods. It's entirely possible to get excellent or very poor nutrition from the same number of calories. The Mediterranean diet is a good starting point.

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I’m a listen to your hunger person but, yeah, 1200 does sound unusually low. I agree with looking at the content and possibly adding some some bang for the buck in there, and continue to pay close attention to how he’s feeling.

For me (me, me, me), that is unusual enough to want to stay alert for any possible issues. I might consider getting some blood work done for reassurance. But “full on healthy foods” is generally a good thing!

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Yes, I'd be a bit worried. 1200 calories a day is extremely low calorie for a man. I would expect him to be losing weight fairly rapidly on that amount, and if he's already at a good weight -- well, obviously he doesn't still need to be losing. And it increases my concern that this only started a month ago. Besides an underlying health issue causing the lack of appetite, it also could be the onset of disordered eating or even a full blown eating disorder. Nobody is immune from those, even grown men. It's difficult to impossible for a man to meet minimum nutritional needs on 1200 calories a day. I'd be adding higher calorie, lower volume foods like nuts and nut butters, or perhaps cheese if he eats dairy--much more bang for the buck nutrient wise from things like that than from adding pure fat. And I try that for a week or two and see how it goes.

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There is a product (actually a variety of products) made by Abbott Labs. It is called Ensure. When she realized that I'd lost weight, etc., my wife called the pharmacy and ordered a can of Ensure Advance for me, 3 or 4 weeks ago and I am drinking one cup of it each day (4 of the measuring things that are inside the can in each large coffee cup with water). I am on my 2nd large can now.  I believe it is an Appetite Stimulant and there are different kinds, for different needs. If you buy this, I believe that he should drink it at least once a day. Twice a day is better. Between meals, not with meals.  You can see their Ensure products on the Abbott web site. 

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I had to add in more calories but I have an eating disorder. I was eating less than 1200 calories but was sedentary. I was maintaining a low weight, right at the edge of what was considered healthy for me. DH and my mom decided I was too low and convinced me to talk to my psychiatrist about it who diagnosed me with bulimia because of my heavy restrictions and guilt for eating anything that wasn't "on" plan. I started off by adding in foods like nuts and avocado. Then I added in larger portions of dinner. I ended up gaining 10 lbs. I won't go further into the story at this time. I had to accept my low weight and low calorie acceptance was not healthy. 

I suggest, if he hasn't done so already, a physical with the doctor to see if his health is good and to talk about the caloric needs to maintain a good weight range.

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Not a weight loss guru myself, but it's possible he has reset his metabolism down a bit by eating the lower calories. He's going to want to try it very carefully, realizing he might gain some weight. Back when I was at Curves (women's workout place), they were counseling people intentionally to reset their internal on that by intentionally gaining weight one week a month. I think that's what they recommended. 

So maybe don't view it as up but increase by a small amount for a week, watch the scale, maybe pick up the exercise a fuzz. Be intentional.

Also, fwiw, it might be good to look at his % fat to make sure it's high enough. The suggestion to use avocado is a good one. You can buy pre-portioned guacamoles at Walmart/Sams Club to make it easier and more predictable. That way he won't get too excited and eat TOO much, lol.

https://grocery.walmart.com/ip/Wholly-Guacamole-Minis-Classic-Mild-6-count-2-oz/10416257

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Is he sure on portion size?  People very commonly assume that they are eating 'a portion' when they are eating 50% more.  Perhaps he could weigh his food for a few days to see.

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I was wondering about an eating disorder too.  I remember reading an article by a doctor saying that a certain personality type can more easily transition into having an eating disorder once they've been successful in losing a lot of weight.  It can be a subtle-type thing, and I think the mind can be pretty good at convincing someone that they really aren't hungry.

In any event, I think a doctor's appointment is a good idea.

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In my never-popular opinion on this subject, he should not worry about eating more or fewer calories as long as his diet is nutritious food on the whole. 

I have not tracked my calories in a long while but I probably do not get the recommended amount per day. But I am happy at the size I am and am not feeling dizzy or anything, so I’m keeping it this way.

For most of my life, I skipped breakfast or ate very light breakfasts and was probably told about nine million times that one shouldn’t skip breakfast, the Most Important Meal of the Day. 🙄 Only I simply do not like breakfast and have very low motivation to eat until 11, or 10am at the earliest. For a while, I ate breakfast daily, but when the Intermittent Fasting thing became popular, I said, “See! I knew it!” And went back to what I perceive as listening to my body, which means a cup of coffee for breakfast most times. If I know it will be a long time before I can eat lunch, or I know extra energy is in order, I will eat a protein breakfast, like an omelette, but whenever I do that, I only need a light lunch if I eat at all. 

I think if his size is fine and his health is fine and he eats nutritious food, that’s all he needs to do. Counting calories is a contrived concept of modern life and when it no longer serves, I say give it up. 

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If his weight isn't falling drastically on a sudden switch to 1200 calories a day he's either estimating his calories wrong or something is wrong.  My guess is he's eating far more calories in fat than he thinks.  I'd have him carefully weigh his food and count using software or an app like cronometer.  If after two weeks of diligent tracking he isn't dropping weight and you're certain he's eating that little he needs to go for a checkup.  Sudden appetite loss is a symptom of several different medical issues.

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2 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

Is he sure on portion size?  People very commonly assume that they are eating 'a portion' when they are eating 50% more.  Perhaps he could weigh his food for a few days to see.

This would be my first thought. 

Also, if it's only been a month or so, I'd be less inclined to worry or do anything about it. Your appetite can wax and wane depending on a lot of things. I'd probably double-check portions to see if that's accurate to begin with. If it is, I'd probably listen to my body for now and check again in a couple of months. 

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Unless there is some underlying health issue, he should bounce back to wanting more food. The body is phenomenal about regulating what we need. I have btdt, on a couple occasions and my hunger eventually increased without any problems.

Congratulations to your dh! Hope everything is going well for him.

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3 hours ago, Katy said:

If his weight isn't falling drastically on a sudden switch to 1200 calories a day he's either estimating his calories wrong or something is wrong.  My guess is he's eating far more calories in fat than he thinks.  I'd have him carefully weigh his food and count using software or an app like cronometer.  If after two weeks of diligent tracking he isn't dropping weight and you're certain he's eating that little he needs to go for a checkup.  Sudden appetite loss is a symptom of several different medical issues.

That is what I was thinking, if he is really eating that little his weight should be dropping. If he feels fine and is not suddenly dropping weight I would not worry. I think most likely he is underestimating but if not I'd want to look further to see if it is caused by a medical issue or eating disorder.

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9 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

For me (me, me, me), 

This is the part that made me laugh.  Sometimes I feel like that when I am responding to posts.  But the difference is, it really IS all about me. hahahahahahahahaha

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15 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

I am of the opinion that if someone isn’t hungry and isn’t feeling like they’re weak, cold, or not getting enough nutrition, they’re probably just fine.  The human body likes homeostasis and not everyone has the same caloric needs, especially older men and women.

I would say that my DH is very much able to listen to his body and regulate his food intake very well, but once in a while, he gets in a slump and doesn't eat. It's very strange, but it often happens around transitions--shifts close together or farther apart, change in activity, etc. Once in a while, he's just distracted and doesn't notice he needs to eat. If he's really not hungry, eating something won't make him eat way too much. If he's really hungry and hasn't noticed, often just watching someone else eat will suddenly make him feel like eating. Or, he might need to take the first bite, and then he suddenly realizes how hungry he is.

I think it's possible that his hunger cues might be different than they used to be. I've heard that if you're eating more nutritious foods and not having as many blood sugar spikes from carbs, etc., your cues change from rumbling tummy to things like a feeling in your mouth that makes you salivate (not sure I'm describing it right). Maybe he's not one to notice those differences (my DH would NOT notice something like that). 

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That definitely sounds way too low for a man and would indicate eating disorder territory. What does his exercise routine look like? I wonder if adding some weight training or some sport that involves a bunch of heavy muscle work (rock climbing or rowing or something) might help him add muscle and feel hungrier. 

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He could just be fighting a virus & appetite loss is the only obvious symptom.  That's why I said give it a few weeks. 

I once had severe pneumonia and until I was hospitalized my only symptom was suddenly not being able to keep up in kickboxing class. I thought it was from eating eggs instead of oatmeal.

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