Do you ever feel hungry but don't have the appetite for food? When this happens, do you ignore your hunger pangs? If your answer is yes, you may be practicing food restriction.  

Food restriction is when you eat less food than your body needs to function correctly and maintain a healthy weight. When you participate in food restriction, you do not supply the right amount of nutrients your body needs. This leads to starvation, reduced body function, and extreme weight loss.

On Kounsel, we recently hosted Nicole Hindle to discuss ways to eat healthily and deal with food restriction, even with a limited budget. Understanding how to overcome food restriction can help you form a healthy relationship with food.

Food Restriction

Food restriction is usually how your body responds to stress. While some people experience an increased cortisol level and appetite when stressed, others experience a reduced cortisol level which lowers their appetite.

This means that some people feel a reduced desire to eat when they are stressed. When that happens, your body shuts down the urge for food.  

It is different from dieting or practicing restrictive feeding in that it is often involuntary. Although it is often unplanned, restricting food intake may cause more problems for you down the road.

What causes food restriction

Side effects of food restriction

It is essential to examine food restriction because it can have adverse side effects. The severity of these side effects depends on how long you have practiced food restriction.  

Your body needs different proteins and vitamins to function correctly. In extreme cases, your body can shut down when it doesn't get the necessary nutrients for an extended period.

Side effects of food restriction

Another effect of food restriction is that it reduces your ability to build a regular eating habit and can lead to an eating disorder. It is easier to slip into overeating when you participate in restrictive feeding. This is because your body feels the urge to overcompensate for the food deficiency, so it compels you to overeat when food is available.

Hindle emphasizes that when you restrict your food intake for long, your body begins to slow down the rate of your heartbeat to conserve energy. When this happens, your body ensures that it has enough energy to keep up with pumping blood to the brain and other vital organs. This must be addressed immediately!

When to see a doctor

Tips for healthy eating

  1. Create a food budget. If you are experiencing food restriction because of money, it is usually helpful to have a food budget. Start by defining how much you want to spend on food weekly or monthly. Then work with that budget. You can also look out for coupons or buy at lesser-priced stores.
  2. Plan your meal. Meal planning reduces the possibility of skipping your meals and snacks. It also means that you are likely to have quick and convenient options.
  3. Eat a balanced meal. One way to provide adequate nutrition for your body is to use all the food groups to make a balanced meal. Make a meal that is both satisfying to look at and delicious. That way, you can enjoy your meal while supplying vital nutrients to your body.
  4. Address emotional needs quickly and make time for self-care. If you are always on the move, be sure to take time to destress and relax. Do this by exercising or doing anything that helps you be self-aware. Remember, you cannot take care of others if you do not care for yourself.  

If you are struggling with developing a healthy eating habit, understand that it can take a while to adjust. So, be patient with yourself on your journey to recovery. Not everyone will get it right immediately, but you need to keep putting in the effort.

Forming healthy eating habits

About Nicole Hindle

Nicole Hindle is a registered dietitian. You can connect with Nicole on Kounsel for issues relating to nutrition, healthy eating habits, and exercising.