Save 20% On Your First Autoship Order

Online since 2002 |   866-316-0162

Articles and News

How To Get Your Appetite Back After Illness

How To Get Your Appetite Back After Illness
Kevin Cleary

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Illness or surgery can negatively affect our appetite.
  2. This is common with seniors but can affect anyone at any age.
  3. Our body's immune systems can change our metabolism and reduce our appetite.
  4. Medication side effects and even nausea can play a role in suppressing or diminishing our appetite.
  5. Reviving someone's appetite after surgery or an illness can take time, and HPFY has facts and everything you need to help regain your appetite.


The shock of surgery or an illness in our systems can be wide-ranging and can affect just about every aspect of our lives. One specific area that may be affected is our appetites. As we recover from whatever is ailing us, the recovery process itself can disrupt the normal act of eating. Let's face it: when you're not feeling good, you really don't want to eat!! Everything from pain to anesthesia can hamper our appetites. So, how do you get your appetite back after any illness or recovery from surgery? Hopefully, I can give you some insight for caregivers to help their loved ones recover their appetite after an illness or surgery. 

What Causes Loss Of Appetite?

We can experience a loss of appetite for a wide variety of reasons. Between medical conditions, surgery, and medication side effects, it's a wonder we eat anything at all after an illness or surgery. Not only can we experience diminished hunger and appetite, but it can also be accompanied by fatigue and weight loss. It's not exactly something you want to experience while recovering!! The reason behind any diminished appetite can vary from temporary conditions such as infections or digestive disorders to longer-term issues such as late stages of serious illnesses, also known as cachexia. Common causes of appetite loss can include:

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Acid reflux 
  • Stomach bug
  • Food poisoning
  • Stress

How To Get Your Appetite Back

How To Get Your Appetite Back

So how do we, as caregivers or loved ones, help those recovering from an illness or surgery to improve their appetite so they can have the best chance of recovery? Some methods you can incorporate are:

1. Small, frequent snacks

After an illness or surgery, the idea of a large meal may be off-putting, so offer small stacks at regular intervals. Nutrient-dense snacks such as Greek yogurt, whole-grain bread/crackers, avocado, and unsalted nuts can all do the trick.

2. Make meals appealing and colorful

Aesthetics can be a great way to revive the appetite. A person recovering from illness or surgery may have a restricted diet, so adding some panache to dinner can help stimulate their appetite. Don't forget we also eat with our eyes!!

3. Encourage movement and exercise

Regular movement and exercise increase the amount of energy a person burns. Frequent physical activities increase the body's need for fuel and can increase hunger levels. 

4. Socialize at mealtime

As we age, we sometimes suffer from loneliness and isolation. Creating a social environment around mealtime can help your loved one or client look forward to each mealtime and spur their appetite.

5. Be supportive and nonjudgmental

Injuries or the recovery from surgery can lead to depression or generalized anxiety disorder. As you can imagine, this can hinder the desire to eat and limit our appetite. Approaching these behavioral conditions in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment can encourage our loved ones to express feelings and possibly seek professional help simply.

6. Appetite stimulants

These are medications or supplements that increase the feelings of hunger. They are also known as orexigenic, and vitamins, minerals, and herbs may also be orexigenic.

7. Eat your favorites

To increase your appetite, don't feel pressured to eat foods that are healthy just because they're healthy. If you don't like them, eating them can be difficult. Eat to your satisfaction to regain your appetite, even if it means eating the same thing over and over.

According to an article, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some medications to increase appetites. They include:

  • Megestrol acetate: This is a progesterone-based medication used for those suffering from anorexia, cancer, HIV, or AIDS.
  • Oxandrolone: An oral steroid that helps people gain weight. It's often given to help those recovering from surgery, trauma, or chronic infection.
  • Dronabinol: Doctors can prescribe this cannabinoid to help treat AIDS-related anorexia. It can also help boost appetites in those recovering from chemotherapy treatment and suffering from nausea and vomiting.

Your doctor may point you to other vitamins and minerals that can increase appetite. These can include zinc, Vitamin B-1, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Typically, these only work on those who are suffering from deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals. Also, you can supplement snacks and meals with shakes high in protein.

Supplements That Help Increase Appetite


When to Seek Medical Attention

Anyone suffering from an illness or recovering from surgery should see their physician or doctor if they have a complete loss of appetite for a day or more. If this loss of appetite should be accompanied by vomiting for a day or more, inability to keep liquids down, pain when eating, or regular urination you should seek medical attention or visit a licensed nutritionist.



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

Continue reading

Trending Articles

How To Increase Iron Levels Quickly

HPFY Staff Writer

It’s a question that must have puzzled you like many others. Iron is essential in hemoglobin production and its inadequate levels can negatively impact your health. Dive into this informative article to explore top iron-rich foods that can help you fight iron deficiency.

10 Best Coccyx Cushions for Tailbone Pain

HPFY Staff Writer

If you're like most people, you spend about 8 to 10 hours sitting every day. However unhealthy, it is part of life for many, and can cause tailbone pain. Coccyx cushions can help alleviate this pain. Click to read more and find the perfect coccyx cushion for your tailbone pain.

5+ Best Adult Diapers for Fecal Incontinence

HPFY Staff Writer

Dealing with fecal incontinence can be challenging, but you're not alone. Read this article and navigate through discreet and effective solutions that help you manage fecal incontinence and let you live life on your terms with confidence and comfort.

Top 5 Best Reviewed Nebulizers of 2024

HPFY Staff Writer

Need an effective and affordable nebulizer? Look no further, in this article we offer 5 of our best reviewed nebulizers that are loved by our customers. Click to read more and find the perfect nebulizer for all your respiratory needs.

10 Best Penis Pumps For Erectile Dysfunction

HPFY Staff Writer

For anyone dealing with erectile dysfunction, penis pumps serve as a great way to manage it. But with so many products available, determining the best one for your needs can be challenging. To assist you in refining your choices and making an informed decision, here are our top 10 options, recognized for their effectiveness and safety.