Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Changes to your appetite

3-minute read

Have you noticed that you are eating more than usual, or you are not feeling hungry and not eating enough? Or you may have gained or lost a lot of weight without being on a diet.

Changes to your appetite can be caused by many things, but they include anxiety and depression. To make matters worse, feeling concerned about your weight can itself have a negative effect on your mental wellbeing and make you feel more anxious or worried than you were before.

If you find you are overeating, especially lots of high-calorie, sweet foods, you may be ‘comfort eating’. This type of eating can give you a short burst of energy but then leave you craving even more sweet food.

On the other hand, if you are not eating much at all, this can make you feel drained and much worse than if you were eating small, well-balanced meals.

Easy ways to balance your diet

Food is vital to nourishing your body and mind, so it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Try these tips for getting your appetite and eating habits back on track.

  • Aim to eat regularly. Eat 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and snack on nutritious foods like fruits, raw vegetables, low fat crackers and dips.
  • Try to do some moderate physical activity, like walking, as often as you can.
  • At least once a day, and for at least 30 minutes, sit down to eat in a calm, relaxed way.
  • Buy foods that are quick and simple to prepare, so you don’t have to spend a long time cooking if you don’t feel like it. Or cook food slowly if you enjoy it.
  • Choose foods that will provide you with lots of nutrients. For example, a simple stir fry can include lots of healthy vegetables.
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water. Try to avoid alcohol since this can make situations seem much worse than they really are.
  • If you can’t manage solid food, try smoothies or soups and add some protein powder to boost their nutrition.
  • Your pharmacist can advise on meal supplements.

Where to get help

If you have become very underweight or overweight and need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. They may refer you to a dietitian. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • MindSpot Clinic (anyone suffering from anxiety or depression) - call 1800 61 44 34.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) - call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by depression and extreme mood swings) - online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone experiencing a crisis or thinking about suicide) - call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) - call 1300 659 467.



beyondblue (Healthy eating for people with depression, anxiety and related disorders)

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Disordered Eating

What is disordered eating? Disordered eating is when a person regularly engages in unhealthy and destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating can include behaviours which reflect many but not all of the symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

How far is too far - other eating disorders

People with OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders) dont meet the exact criteria for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is a psychological illness characterised by frequently eating excessive amounts of food, often when not hungry. Binges represent a distraction that allows a person to avoid thinking about the real root of their problems. Feelings of guilt, disgust and depression often follow a bingeing episode. Binge Eating Disorder is not the same as overeating, as it is recurrent and more serious.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Psychological Effects | Eating Disorders Victoria

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) has many psychological effects.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

How far is too far - learn about binge eating disorder

People with Binge Eating Disorder eat a very large amount of food in a short time, and feel out of control as they eat

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are a mental illness. The most common types are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other binge eating disorders. They can affect women and men of all age groups, from a range of backgrounds and cultures. Many people might be living with these disorders without being diagnosed.

Read more on WA Health website

Binge Eating Disorder | The Butterfly Foundation

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Read more on Butterfly Foundation website

What is binge eating disorder? | Eating disorders | ReachOut Australia

There are signs that indicate someone might have binge eating disorder, as well as a number of ways to get help.

Read more on website

Eating disorders & the autism spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects the way individuals interact and communicate with others. People on the autism spectrum have repetitive or restricted behaviours or interests, and often have sensory sensitivities. The word spectrum reflects that there are differing degrees by which people are affected. Some may require ongoing support and care, whereas others are able to live independent lives.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Binge eating disorder - Better Health Channel

You can recover from binge eating disorder with the right help and commitment.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo