Some of us struggle with small appetites and maintaining enough weight to be healthy, the way others struggle with too much appetite and keeping weight lower. You might want to increase your appetite to make sure you are giving your body the good nutrition it needs to be healthy and feel great, or you may be looking to grow your appetite to build lean muscle mass. Don’t worry! Either way, making some adjustments in your habits will grow your appetite and help you reach your goals.

  1. Start with a Healthy Breakfast. You know what they say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” When you are looking to grow your appetite, this is true. Breakfast jolts your body and starts your metabolism running. According to Women’s Health, the faster your metabolism, the hungrier you get.
    To fuel your metabolism and get your hunger going, try eating a small breakfast with a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and good carbs. Try a small bowl of oatmeal with some fruit and nuts mixed in, half a mashed avocado on whole grain toast and an, or some Greek yogurt with fruit and granola.
  1. Eat Often. It might seem crazy to eat frequently when you don’t have a big appetite, but give it a try. Eating your next meal within two hours of breakfast is good for a few reasons:
  • First, eating often encourages your metabolism to hum along, which may ultimately speed it up and cause you to be hungrier more often.
  • Additionally, by eating smaller meals more often you remove the need to eat large meals. Large, heavy meals can be a turnoff if you don’t have a good appetite. By eating smaller meals, you feed your body food that you can handle in one sitting.
  • According to Joan Salge, RD on Everyday Health, “Eating small meals can help prevent bloating.” With less painful bloating after meals, you might find yourself feeling hungry more often.
  1. Eat Healthy Snacks between Meals. When choosing, small meals and snack, make healthy choices. When appetite is limited, make your choices count by packing them full of nutrients your body needs.Choose snacks rich in good for your fats like nuts, peanut butter, or veggies dipped in guacamole or hummus. These little snacks won’t take up much room in your belly, but pack a powerful caloric punch. Stock your purse or car with premade baggies of nuts or trail mix to make snacking on the go easier.
  1. Set Yourself up for Mealtime Success. Make meal times enjoyable. Do whatever you need to do to relax and enjoy your food as much as possible. Some tips to have fun during meals:
  • Fill your plate with your favorite foods. When you are struggling to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight, you don’t have to eat healthily all the time. Just be careful. Too much rich, fatty food can add to problems with bloating so be sure to indulge in moderation.
  • Eat with friends or family when possible. Having company at meals may keep you more accountable to eating larger portions.
  • Avoid foods that are turn offs. Certain foods may be flat out unappealing to you. When you have a small appetite, there is no reason to include this off putting foods in your diet. Just avoid them all together.
  • Add pleasant smelling herbs and spices in your cooking. If certain smells make your stomach sick, others are sure to stimulate your appetite. Try adding aromatics to your cooking to get your appetite going. Sprinkle cinnamon on apples before baking them, or try spicing up a roast chicken with herbs like rosemary and thyme. Adding new flavors and smell just may be your food blase enough to grow your appetite.
  • During mealtimes, choose large plates. Large plate promote bigger portion sizes. Studies conducted by food psychologists suggest larger plates encourage you to eat more because the food looks smaller on the plate. When food looks smaller on the plate, people have the habit of taking more to eat.
  1. Decrease your Fiber Intake. Dieters always hear about the benefits of eating filling fiber. For those of us with less than hearty appetites, fiber isn’t nearly as much of your friend. “Fiber makes you full, because it swells in your stomach when it absorbs liquid,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD in Fitness Magazine. While this is great for dieters, this is bad news for people with limited appetites. That fiber takes up valuable real estate in your gut and can increase uncomfortable bloating after eating it.
  1. Get moving! When you are trying to increase your appetite, getting exercise can do the trick. The key is to make sure you take in more calories than you burned. Be careful to avoid intense exercise like running or spinning as this kind of exercise may actually decrease your appetite. Self Magazine says, “you might not feel hungry for up to an hour after” running or biking but suggests taking a dip in the pool to get your appetite revved. Dipping your body in cool water stimulates it to burn more calories, which fires your body’s hunger signals. So go for a swim, and then eat up!
  1. Drink the Right Liquids at the Right Time. Getting enough fluid keeps your digestive system running smoothly and helps your stomach empty, creating room for more food. Too much liquid too near a meal time may actually decrease your appetite since it may sit in your stomach and make you feel full. For the best digestion, try drinking 6 to 8 ounces of water about an hour before meal time. Some herbalists and naturopaths also swear by a variety of herbal teas to act as a an appetite stimulant. Try drinking a cup of lemon tea, peppermint tea, or ginger tea to promote good digestion and hearty appetite. Other herbal teas for appetite include anise, fennel, and dandelion.
  1. Try a Supplement. Bodybuilders looking to increase mass swear by certain supplements to grow their appetites. Zinc, b12, and folic acid all may help you increase your appetite. Studies have shown taking zinc supplements stimulates the appetite. People with zinc deficiency tend to have very poor appetites and other issues that may damper your enjoyment of food. Try taking a supplement or eating foods rich in zinc like pumpkin seeds, pork chops, and beef to get the appetite boosting benefits.
    B12 and folic acid can both boost appetite. These foods vitamins stimulate energy and mood. Both energy and mood play a direct role in appetite. The better your mood and higher your energy levels, the better your appetite is likely to be. These supplements are available in pill and injection form.
  1. Boost your HCl. Hydrochloric acid is key to digestion. This acid breaks food. When food is broken down it can pass through your system more easily, causing more frequent need for food. The frequent need for food results in- you guessed it- increased appetite. The Institute for Optimum Nutrition details the process and the importance of HCl for digestion.To increase your HCl levels, try starting the day with a glass of water with lime. Other ways to stimulate HCl production include drinking a protein drink, particularly before or after a workout.
  1. Write it Down. Keep a food journal. Log your food intake and your appetite levels. Take note of any times your appetite is particularly high or low and try find patterns. Repeat the patterns that make you hungrier.

If these tips fail and you still find yourself turning down food, consult your doctor. There may be an underlying problem that your doctor can treat that will have you gobbling up your dinner in no time.