Why can't I eat in the morning?
February 7, 2006 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I eat in the morning?

Every morning for about 4+ years now, I haven't been able to stomach any food. Even the thought of my favorite food makes me nauseaous, and I have malaise during this. It doesn't matter how physically and mentally healthy I am, how much sleep i've gotten, or what time I get up - the feeling sticks for hours after I wake up.

After a few hours, I get hungry and eat normally for the rest of the day. I know a few people who suffer from the same thing and their "can't eat" times vary from 2-4 hours. Is there an explanation for this?

FYI: No history of eating disorders.
posted by frankie_stubbs to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
I should add that nothing noticeable happened about 4 years ago. It seemed to be a gradual change.
posted by frankie_stubbs at 12:06 PM on February 7, 2006

Are you getting enough sleep? I know I sometimes feel nauseous if I'm overly tired.
posted by boomchicka at 12:17 PM on February 7, 2006

The same thing happens to me, although not to the point of nausea. I just don't have any appetite and food really turns me off until I have been awake for a couple of hours. I just make sure that I have a good lunch and it works out just fine.

I also am definately not a morning person, and the thought of having to do extra work in my morning routine also turns me off a bit. It's been this way since I moved out of my parents house about 5 years ago and have attributed it to the fact that my mother isn't around to bug me about shoveling a bowl of cereal into my face. When I visit these days, I usually decline on breakfast I don't think I've even bought a box of cereal since then.

I'm interested to know if there is any real explanation for having no appetite or interest in food when waking up.
posted by helvetica at 12:18 PM on February 7, 2006

I'm a no-morning-appetite person too; I seem to recall reading something fairly recently (in the past 6 months or year, I think?) that said there's a biological explanation for this of some sort or the other -- related, I believe, to why most traditional breakfast foods tend to be blander/simpler than the meals we eat for the rest of the day.
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on February 7, 2006

I have had this problem on and off for a while. In my experience it corresponds to my overall health and activities. For example, when I am eating a balanced diet and sleeping well regularly the problem disappears. When I am stressed, and especially sleeping poorly, it arises.

Aside from general activities, I think forcing yourself to wake up too quickly can be a big part of it. If you are in a rush, or on a timeframe to get to work (or whatever) this may be a part of it. Instead try spending 15 to 30 minutes just watching TV or reading a newspaper. Forget about food and your appetite will arise naturally.

Certainly a key factor is expecting nausea. If it has become part of a routine or ritual, this needs to broken. A suggestion is to try getting up earlier for a week or two, and trying to forget all about food, unless you really feel like eating.
posted by MetaMonkey at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2006

My wife doesn't get nauseated, but she does have stomach pains in the morning if she doesn't eat before bed. Doctor said ulcer. Treatment has begun.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2006

Also, try different foods, especially bland, unsugared cereals (like oats or bran), and avoid caffine before sleep and before breakfast.
posted by MetaMonkey at 12:27 PM on February 7, 2006

I normally don't like eating in the morning unless I was physically active the day before and/or went to bed hungry(not starving, just not full). Even then, I don't usually eat that much. Only enough that I'm hungry again a couple of hours later.
posted by stavrogin at 12:28 PM on February 7, 2006

I'm also not a morning eater, nor a morning person. I have been this way as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I didn't really like eating right when I woke up.

As an adult, I'm pretty much on a strict coffee, water, and cigarette diet in at least the first few hours of waking up.

I can't even count how many tasty home-cooked breakfasts I've passed up just because I wasn't ready to eat yet.

I've even had to flee kitchens or homes where someone was getting all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and whipping up some huge, sizzling breakfast, just 'cause I couldn't deal with all the smells and noises.

And it seems like the only times I'll eat one of those sizzling, greasy, salty breakfasts is if I've been up all night drinking and haven't gone to bed yet, or if I've been up all night drinking, awoke after noon, and have had plenty of coffee and smokes and a nice, long, languid waking period in which to nurse my hangover.

However, I love cereal. I just eat it for dinner or a snack or whatever instead.

So, I don't have any answers. But you're not alone.
posted by loquacious at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2006

I normally don't like eating in the morning unless I was physically active the day before and/or went to bed hungry(not starving, just not full).

Seconded. If I go out for a long bike ride, or otherwise do any truly serious physical activity, I'm famished the next morning, especially if I was so tired I didn't eat, or I just snacked the night before.

On these mornings, I crave a huge bowl of chewy, slightly undercooked oatmeal and a whole mess of eggs. I could eat two or three cups of (cooked) oats and a half a dozen eggs.
posted by loquacious at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2006

Probably worth asking your doctor about.

I had pretty similar symptoms... turned out it was from acid reflux from gallstones. They can do all kinds of weird stuff... set off asthma, nausea, acid reflux, vomiting... many possible symptoms.

If you can't see a doctor, try taking Prilosec for about a week... if that improves your symptoms, as it very well may, then you DEFINITELY should go see a doctor. (but you really should anyway.)
posted by Malor at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2006

I also had gallstone-related morning nausea. The problem was, it would get worse instead of subsiding if I ate nothing. I found that eating a very small amount super-bland foods such as plain saltine crackers or cheerios (no milk) helped the nausea go away pretty quickly.

I never had my gallbladder removed - just eating a low-fat diet so I don't aggravate things - but if I do have a higher-than-normal fat eating day, I find that the 'morning sickness' returns the next day. If you typically have a large, high fat dinner, try adjusting that for a few days to see if that helps.
posted by ferociouskitty at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2006

I have similar experiences. In my case, it turned out to be a hiatal hernia which caused acid reflux. Basically, I had to wait a few hours for the upper part of my stomach to settle under my diaphragm after being horizontal while sleeping.

Do you have heartburn or chest pain often?
posted by Yorrick at 12:48 PM on February 7, 2006

maybe your blood pressure got lower than it used to be, maybe you're having some liver trouble you didn't have before, maybe (coffee and cigarettes help that a lot) you're suffering from stomach trouble (from simple heartburn to ulcers) you didn't have before
posted by matteo at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2006

It seems to me that acid reflux, hiatal hernia, "doesn't happen if I go to bed hungry" all point to the same thing (which also happens to be what it is for me): eating within a couple hours of going to bed. This clearly causes morning sitophobia/anorexia for many people, including me.

I was always food averse in the mornings until a medication I was on made it a good idea for me not to eat in the 2-3 hours before sleep. Since then, I never eat in that period, and I always have an appetite in the morning (both on and off the medication, so it's not like a hunger pill).

So, don't eat before bed, and see if it goes away -- er, if your appetite comes back.
posted by xueexueg at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2006

Are you eating after 7pm [dinnertime] the night before?

(A common problem for dieters -- you shouldn't be eating past "dinnertime" -- this can also affect your hunger the following morning.)
posted by jca at 2:10 PM on February 7, 2006

(or what xueexueg said)
posted by jca at 2:11 PM on February 7, 2006

I've had a similar problem. When I went to the doctor, she said that it had to do with my brain mixing up "hunger" and "nausea". So, when I should have been feeling hungry, I felt like I was going to puke. She said to force food down for a few weeks and the symptoms would go away, as my body became accustomed to the change. It really only took three days. Just my experience.
posted by MeetMegan at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2006

When I exercise, ~25 minutes-worth, first thing in the morning I am hungry within half an hour of sweating. When I just wake up and get ready for work, it takes me at least three hours to work up an appetite in my normal office-work day. If you are wanting to eat breakfast earlier, try walking around your neighborhood for fifteen minutes or do 5-10 minutes of jumping jacks, it'll only take a day or two of spending all morning wishing you had eaten breakfast to find out that you can eat early.
posted by iurodivii at 2:37 PM on February 7, 2006

MeetMegan's comment is interesting. I had the reverse happen: until a few years ago, I would be totally nauseated and not-able-to-eat in the morning. Only very strong-tasting, spicy foods would be palatable before 10am. Anything bland (like toast or cereal) would just be unpleasant to eat. It was totally disconnected from what I had or hadn't eaten the night before, or how much sleep I got.

After living somewhere where I could easily buy a good, hot breakfast (with lots of flavor) first thing in the morning, I started to gradually get in the habit of eating breakfast, and now I wake up hungry instead of nauseated. I wonder if it's all in the mind.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:46 PM on February 7, 2006

I'm with MeetMegan - try getting your body back in the breakfast habit with something small and bland every morning to get back on track.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2006

I've always hated eating in the morning, just after getting up. It dosn't help that i hate 'breakfast' foods.
posted by delmoi at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2006

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