three artificial carrots on a blue plate all on a pink background

Having a Ridiculously Small Appetite

TW: Disordered eating, emetophobia

I have a fun fact for you all: I have, like, the smallest appetite ever.

Now, before you start telling me that “you wish you had that problem,” let me tell you: you don’t.

Imagine, if you will, a plate with your favorite meal. You eat about a third of your plate, and you’re comfortably full. You stare at the plate longingly, wishing you could finish the rest. Well, technically you could…

So you keep eating. By the time you’re halfway through your plate, you start to feel uncomfortable. By the time you’re two thirds of the way full, you’re feeling sick. Forget any thoughts about dessert, and be prepared for at least 4 hours of discomfort.

That’s my life…Every. Single. Meal. I mean, at this point, I’ve learned to only eat small portions or accept the future acid reflux attack that will befall me for overeating. Thank you, apple cider vinegar gummies!

Looking at the servings on the food pyramid is daunting to me…you want me to have how many portions? EVERY DAY!?

How small is my appetite exactly, you may ask? Here are some examples for context:

  • 2 scrambled eggs are too many (sometimes 1 egg is too few though, so that’s tricky)
  • 2 rolls of sushi are too many, so when I get sushi, I have to eat one roll and one appetizer
  • 1 pancake or 1 piece of French toast is just enough food if I’m going out to a diner…I can tack on one piece of bacon or a couple forkfuls of hashbrowns if I’m lucky
  • 1 slice of pizza is usually just right, maybe 1.5 if I’m particularly hungry
  • Sometimes an entire croissant is too much for me

Yes, you read all of that correctly. My stomach is approximately the size of a plum pit. Or a small walnut.

When I’m at home and able to make the correct portions for myself, I can usually navigate this pretty well, but when I’m out at a restaurant, it’s a bit trickier. When I’m eating out, I have to be way more diligent about how much I’m eating. No one has acquired more to-go containers than me!

The easiest thing would be to know approximately how much I need so that I can only focus on eating that much, right? The problem is that my appetite isn’t the same every day of the year. Hormones, for example, can play a huge role in my appetite. Some times of the month I’m a bottomless pit, and others I can hardly eat half of what I usually eat comfortably.

As per usual, intuitive eating would be the perfect solution to this, but that takes time to perfect.

As someone with disordered eating tendencies, I have the bad habit of eating mindlessly, but in order to eat the right amount of food when that amount is ever-changing, I can’t really be mindless! Since I want to just get all of my food down as fast as I can without thinking about it, portioning it out would be a great answer, but it’s obviously not ideal.

Intuitive eating would mean eating more mindfully and admitting to myself that some days of the month I need more food…and then giving myself grace if I still eat past that.

Oh yes, that’s so easy! I’ll get right on that…

I’m guessing my lack of appetite and need for portion control are the reason why I also prefer snacks to meals.

When I was in college, my friends would all think it was so strange that I would eat a breakfast pastry every meal of the day. But the reality was, I knew how much of each pastry I could handle, whether it was a half or a whole. Plus, you know, I really like breakfast pastries.

Back when I worked in an office with a cafeteria, my dad and I would go there once or twice a week. Every single trip down to the cafeteria involved him grabbing a quick salad and me taking several laps around the cafeteria unimpressed by all of the different sandwiches, pizzas, salads and full-on meals, preferring to eat a yogurt or cereal that I brought to work. It was just easier to eat the already-portioned food that I had brought with me.

On days where I am home without any plans to leave or any food in the fridge, I am more than happy to graze all day. When I go to any food court, cafeteria, or grocery store, I will gladly stock up on Goldfish crackers, cookies, veggie crisps, and dark chocolate treats, but when it comes to having an actual meal, I lose my appetite and become super picky. Between the emetophobia (seriously, compare how often someone gets food poisoning from a bag of potato chips to how often someone gets food poisoning from meat…) and the small appetite, I would just prefer something that is already in a small portion size.

Being snacky has always been part of my personality, but I only recently started attributing it to my small appetite and need for defined portions. Sure, eating a small plate of nachos or a small order of curly fries for lunch every day may not be ideal, but at least I’m eating something! Having a small appetite makes this particularly challenging because if I don’t have the room in my stomach for both a salad and my curly fries, guess which one I’m choosing? 

The intuitive eating piece of eating mindfully and giving myself permission to overeat comes with time, but I suppose I could start with giving myself permission to eat too many nachos or fries…

Yeah, let’s start there!

Photo by SHVETS production

12 thoughts on “Having a Ridiculously Small Appetite

      1. I think its really great you’re being so honest about this and sharing it with people. Maybe someone reading has the same struggle?

        Although this is not something I struggle with, food has always been my emotional comfort (as my waist size will prove), I think eating whatever and how much you need is fine. Graze the whole day if you need to! We do that for students at my school. Sometimes their medications cause a repressed appetite. So their lunch just stays open on their desks all day on the off chance they get hungry.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The best way is to just tell the world to f off 🙃 its hard but once you get used to doing it, its easy! Definitely a fake it until ya make it type of situation

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Definitely trying my best to do that! I’ve heard that you care less about what people think the older you get, but it seems to be the opposite for me…just takes practice, I think!


      4. Aw! For sure thats how it went with me. As a younger person i was starved for attention from peers and the opposite sex and hid behind my weight. I wasnt ever bullied for my weight but I was most certainly “the fat girl”. And even over hearing a conversation my mom had on the phone with her sister saying she didnt know where she went so wrong to have fat children. It took a toll on my own self worth. But the older I got, the more I realized that my self worth isnt in how big or small I am, and that some guys do actually love my body shape. It was hella empowering! And let me just release a lot of the societal expectations. Lets be real, sometimes they are still there. They cut deep. But I’ve grown a LOT. It took a lot of work and I’m still going.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s def rough…jeez! Yeah, I think it’s because I developed anxiety in my early twenties that I get more stressed out now, but hopefully it’ll start going back in the other direction soon 😅


  1. My mom got bariatric surgery a handful of years ago and though the benefit of weight loss has been a huge success, her ability to eat a full meal has been traded. She’s lucky to get 6 bites of anything before getting full and if she pushes herself too much, she’s nauseous for hours afterwards. Like you, she’s become quite the snacker which she doesn’t mind. It’s usually over holiday meals when she gets a little upset.

    Liked by 1 person

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