Why does eating make me feel like crap?
December 3, 2012 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I love food, but eating makes me feel terrible. What can I do about it?

For a variety of reasons, I've got terrible eating habits. I skip meals or even forget to eat pretty frequently. Lately I've noticed that, when I finally do get around to eating, I feel like shit:

-first I'm happy. Yay! Food!
-then I'm not so happy.
-then, even though my body is still hungry, I don't want to eat anymore. Like, my tongue and jaw do not want any more tasting and chewing to happen even though my tummy definitely needs more nourishment.
-then, I either a) begin to feel inexplicably, powerfully angry for no apparent reason. Like, I am flooded with rage.
b) become so incredibly tired that actually have to go to bed. Not like "I'm sleepy, I need sleep", but like "go lie in bed right now so I don't pass out on the floor against my will".
c) feel really sad, like, "oh god, everything is horrible and I'm going to start crying and I can't help it".
d) get a terrible headache.
e) feel kind of nauseous

Sometimes more than one of these will happen in varying orders. At best, this stuff is more mild and only lasts a few minutes. At worst, I have to go lie down for half an hour to an hour, and then I'm fine again.

I think this is physiological rather than emotional, and I would like to know how to solve it because it sucks.

Possibly related: I sometimes have trouble knowing if I am hungry or full.

Possibly related: the longer I've gone without eating the worse it is, which means every morning is shitty.
posted by windykites to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Boy does this sound like an endocrine/hormone kind of things. Is this new, or have you always had this problem?

It could be a sugar/carb sensitivity, perhaps like diabetes or hypo/hyper-glycemia. I'd haul my ass to endocrinologist tout suite, stop by your GP for a referral first.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:21 AM on December 3, 2012

What you have described are textbook symptoms of hypoglycemia. You absolutely, positively must start eating regular meals, preferably six small ones a day, or it's going to get worse.
posted by Specklet at 8:21 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds a bit like reactive hypoglycemia.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:23 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just started noticing it within the last few months.
posted by windykites at 8:25 AM on December 3, 2012

Not a doctor (and you should probably see one), but yeah, that does really sound like blood glucose/insulin issues.

Could you maybe try a day or two where you make a habit of eating all the time-- like, instead of 6 hours fasting + big unpleasant angry meal at the end, just pack yourself some nut-and-protein-heavy trail mix and set your alarm to have a handful every half-hour? It might be easier to face getting through a tiny serving of food than an enormous one, and that kind of schedule should keep your blood sugar on a slightly more even keel.

Also, are you drinking enough water?
posted by Bardolph at 8:25 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing potential glycemic issues. What are the variety of issues contributing to your eating habits or lack thereof? Can you alter some of them?

You should definitely consult a doctor about all of this.
posted by RainyJay at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2012

even if there is now a psychological component, it is only re-inforced by what appear to be physical symptoms which are amenable to treatment. Please please go to a doctor. Addressing an underlying physical cause will make the rest far easier to deal with. Really.
It doesn't have to be like this.
posted by Wilder at 8:45 AM on December 3, 2012

Are you still taking Zoloft and does the onset of these symptoms coincide roughly with the period after you started taking it? Loss of appetite, loss of interest in food preparation, and nausea after eating are all known side effects of Zoloft. Talk to your psychiatrist first if you're still taking it.
posted by drlith at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2012

I am still taking Zoloft, but I'm not certain if this started at the same time. I will for sure check in with a doc and I'll post an update for future readers.
posted by windykites at 9:10 AM on December 3, 2012

When I eat too much sugar* I get all of the anxiety symptoms you describe within about an hour of eating said too much sugar. I freak out, am convinced everything has always been and will always be terrible, and feel like I could cry at the drop of a hat, even if I've been having a great day up until that point. It's the weirdest thing. I've tried playing around with my sugar intake and have pretty well documented it. Now, if I start feeling that way, I first check in to see what I've been eating, then figure out if the anxiety/wanting to cry is real - that is, 1) have I eaten too much sugar?* and if no, 2) what is going on in my life causing this reaction?

Even if it has started in the last few months, you might want to follow the advice above to see if your food patterns are contributing to the issues you describe.

*Too much sugar as defined for me. I can't tell you what "too much sugar" is for you, or anyone else, really. Everyone is different and has different tolerances for stuff - this is just what works for me.
posted by RogueTech at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2012

Starting now, start keeping a food diary (log what and when you've eaten, and how you feel afterwards). It's something the doctor will probably ask you to do anyway, and you may as well go in to your first appointment armed with some history.
posted by phunniemee at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2012

I agree with everyone above me about seeing a doctor and eating regular meals.

For whatever it is worth, I get nauseous sometimes when I am very hungry. If I haven't eaten in the past 24 hours and I do eat a meal, I immediately feel sick once I start eating. I don't want to eat and I feel like I'm going to throw up. This is particularly true if I am eating a very carb-heavy or sugary meal, and it's worse the longer I have gone without eating.

I try to avoid this by eating regularly, eating less carbs and more protein, and if I haven't eaten in a long time and am going to eat a meal, I eat a small snack first.
posted by inertia at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2012

These symptoms are sometimes associated with gluten intolerance. I'd also look at dairy and eggs as possible culprits. Is this the same for everything you eat? Are you eating a lot of fast/processed food?
posted by cnc at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2012

I have had my glucose tested every which way and it's all within normal ranges, but the difference in reactions my body has to eating something smallish every couple of hours to eating a larger meal a couple of times a day (even if they're each the same sort of nutrients or even if the small meals are crap and the big ones are much higher quality nutrient-wise) is, in a word: fucking staggering. The big meals throw me into tremendous distress, some of which you've outlined but also in additional ways. So even just changing that timing - without waiting for a diagnoses or moving so much of your actual diet around - could have a positive effect.
posted by marylynn at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2012

You should probably see a doctor, even a PCP. I am not a doctor, but I would guess that you either have (a) some sort of food allergy (cnc mentioned gluten), (b) some sort of endocrine issue, or (c) some sort of blood sugar issue.

Your doctor should know what tests to run, but you may also want to ask about the following:
CBC - complete blood count. Exactly what it sounds like.
TSH - Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Usually used to help diagnose hypo/hyper-thyroidism.
A1C - Looks at how your blood sugar has been over time (versus a regular finger prick which is just what it is at that moment).

They may also run various other tests.

In the meantime, try to cut out gluten (it's in e-v-e-r-y thing) and maybe the dairy.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
posted by NYC-BB at 6:34 PM on December 3, 2012

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