A few weeks ago I wrote about loss of appetite and depression, but realistically loss of appetite is something I experience much more often during periods of hypomania.
Noticing a change in mood when hypomania comes on isn’t always the first thing on my radar, and that is why I try to keep close tabs on symptoms like insomnia and loss of appetite. These are symptoms that tend to show up in my episodes early on and are good indicators that things have changed.
The loss of appetite I associate with depression is both one of not feeling like eating, but also of feeling dissatisfied with food in general.
The loss of appetite I associate with hypomania (on the other hand) is one of not feeling like eating, but out of a sense of contentment or forgetfulness. Most of the time eating during times of hypomanic loss of appetite, my stomach will welcome whatever it is I eat, whenever it is I decide to eat it.
This can be a dangerous situation because it becomes entirely too easy to live off of a box of Hostess cupcakes, or the remnants of a pizza that has been in the fridge a few days. Eating doesn’t feel necessary, but when I do it I generally feel satisfied after eating anything. That satisfaction appears present whether I eat or not, and it can become easy to jump on the back of that satisfaction and ride it all the way through the episode.
I think the biggest problem I have with hypomania and loss of appetite is trying to determine whether it is better to force myself to eat regular meals at mealtimes, or if I should only eat when I’m hungry. Often hypomanic “logic” dictates I should only eat when I am hungry… but honestly I have had more luck eating small meals at normal mealtimes because otherwise my blood sugar has a tendency to crash (at which point I become a very abrupt, mean person).
This happened to me yesterday, and I went from eating eggs and toast at 8 am to suddenly realizing at 6 pm that I felt very irritable and needed food immediately (due to super low blood sugar).
It can be easy with the increase in energy, associated projects, and increased social time to find myself wondering, “well when do I have time to eat, anyway?” I find this easiest to combat during hypomania if I combine eating with social situations. Grab lunch with a friend! Make breakfast for my boyfriend (and myself)! Pop in with a friend for happy hour sushi!
Combining food and social situations while hypomanic can greatly improve on how healthy the food is you’re eating during an episode (sushi = way better than a box of Hostess cupcakes is for you) in a way that makes remembering to eat rather seamless.
I would also note that spending money during hypomanic periods can be particularly easy, and spending money on food is (for me) doubly so. If you’re short on cash, it can be more cost effective to throw a small dinner party, or have a few friends over to your house/apartment for a home-made meal. It can be fun to cook together, or just ask everyone to bring something to contribute!
It can be easy to feel like it isn’t a big deal not to eat (especially when it doesn’t feel bad to go without food). Realistically, our bodies need nourishment… so at least being mindful of this fact when the loss of appetite hits can be good news for a more well-balanced mind and body.