Alcohol addiction can do nearly endless damage to a person’s life. It causes mental and physical health problems, causes relationships to break down and can cost a person their livelihood.

There is also a lot of talk about how drunk people eat a lot and that those who live with alcohol addiction can become overweight. But, actually, chronic alcohol use can also lead to a loss of appetite in a person. This might sound good for people concerned about weight, but loss of appetite can be a sign of bigger problems that need to be addressed.

Knowing the link between alcohol and appetite loss, the signs to look out for, and how to improve eating habits can go a long way in helping you overcome your alcohol addiction.


Understanding Alcohol’s Impact on the Body

Alcohol has many physiological effects on your body that could impact your appetite.

Drinking heavily will impact your digestive system, making you unable to absorb nutrients properly and damaging your stomach lining. After a lot of drinking, your liver will become overworked, and the metabolising of alcohol will be compromised. If your metabolism is lowered, then hunger signals that go to your brain will tell you you are not hungry when you might need food.


Some alcohol can increase your appetite, but a lot of drinking will eventually decrease it.

Alcohol has little nutritional value but contains enough calories to make you think you are full despite eating very little. Drinking heavily will suppress your appetite as well due to alcohol impairing hormones functioning in your body correctly. These hormones, leptin and ghrelin, regulate hunger – signalling when you are full and hungry.

Alcohol can dull your natural feelings of satiety, so you don’t seek out food when you need it.

As addiction takes hold, your priorities change. Soon, things like eating correctly will take a backseat over drinking – especially when eating less can help you feel the effects of alcohol more easily.

As alcohol irritates your gastrointestinal system, throat and mouth then soon the processes of eating may be uncomfortable.


Alcohol, Mental Health and Eating Habits

Alcohol and loss of appetite can have an impact on your mental health as well.

Chronic drinking will cause damage to your stomach, as stated above. This irritation can lead to nausea. Soon, your brain will link those feelings of nausea with eating – complicating your relationship with food.

A complicated relationship to food can worsen due to alcohol use. Drinking may have been a reaction to existing mental health issues. Stress and anxiety can lead you to not wanting to eat, and having an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia will only worsen with the presence of alcohol.

Good nutrition and recovery can only occur if you are in the right frame of mind. Lack of food and energy will only exacerbate negative feelings, leading you back to alcohol to cope with these feelings.


Tips for Managing Appetite Loss Due to Alcohol

If you are struggling with alcohol and loss of appetite, there are things you can do to ease your problems. Viewing the problem as a whole may seem daunting, but if you employ small changes, then these steps put you on the right path.

What is important is that you recognise you need to change your eating habits and alcohol consumption and are willing to put the work in.

Recognising the Signs of Alcohol-Related Appetite Changes

There are many signs to watch out for to see if eating habits and alcohol use are hurting you or someone close to you. Signs include:

  • A sudden drop in weight
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • More irritable
  • Nausea
  • Lack of concentration
  • Prioritising drinking over eating
  • Mainly eating junk food

If these signs have become noticeable, then it might be time for professional help. Addiction is a progressive disease and will only worsen so getting help via an alcohol rehab is important to fixing your loss of appetite and drinking.

Well Balanced Diet

Drinking heavily and not eating correctly will deprive your body of the nutrition it needs to function efficiently. Changing to a rounded diet that improves your body’s healing processes is important to recovery. Complex carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids will help your brain recover. Eating vegetables, brown rice, and starchy vegetables like potatoes will help reverse the vitamin deficiencies you will be suffering from.

It is also good to avoid processed foods, sugar, and things with too much fat, salt, and caffeine.

Regular Eating Schedule

Your body may have gotten used to not having much food. Creating a routine will help bring some order to your life. You and your body will know when to expect food, which will help you maintain a balanced diet and keep up your energy levels.

Drink Water

Alcohol will make you dehydrated and result in poor energy and worse mental health. Drinking a lot of water is good for your health and helps your body function better. Hydration also reduces sugar cravings, which can be mistaken for drug and alcohol cravings, and water helps flush the harmful toxins out of your body.


Making changes won’t produce results instantly. It’s important to go easy on yourself and take time out to practice self-care. Do things you enjoy, meet up with friends and be a part of life so you are not always thinking about your alcohol and health concerns.


Light to moderate exercise will encourage hunger. Going for a walk gets the body active and those processes inside working. To keep up the energy levels being used, you need food, so regular exercise can help you maintain your eating routine.

Seek Professional Help

There are many ways to reduce your drinking safely. If your addiction is serious, then professional help might be the only option. A stay at rehab can help you end your physical dependence and alcohol and provide you with resources and support to improve your eating habits.


Get Help Now

Your understanding of alcohol and health is just a small part of the broader picture of living better. Eating well and reducing your drinking can help reverse the damage you are doing to yourself and lead to a better way of life. Lack of food can lead to many health issues, and alcohol only worsens these problems.

If you are struggling with alcohol and in need of help, then Addiction Advocates is here for you. For guidance and support on all things addiction-related, call us today at 0800 012 6088.


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