For someone who has become addicted to alcohol, the priority has shifted in favor of the alcohol. This can result in the alcoholic making more of an effort to acquire and consume alcoholic beverages rather than paying heed to their nutritional needs. This helps explain why do alcoholics not eat food. They simply fill up on the alcohol, leaving them feeling sated, resulting in taking a pass on real food.
Table of Contents
Alcoholics and Loss of Appetite
It is a quandary: Why do alcoholics stop eating? What is it about the substance abuse that leads to loss of appetite? There are actually a couple of explanations for the effects of alcoholism on appetite and dietary intake. Let’s explore them:
There is evidence that long-term heavy alcohol consumption can lead to suppression of the appetite. According to Dr. Anna Kojavec of La Trob University School of Psychological Science, “We confirmed that certain biochemical processes associated with appetite regulation do change when alcohol was consumed.” Her research has shown that alcohol can have the effect of suppressing appetite.
People who engage in high alcohol consumption tend to crave unhealthy food choices. In answer to the question, “Why do alcoholics not eat food,” one could reply that they do eat food, but just not nutritious food. A study conducted at Princeton showed that a hormone known as gelanin is produced when alcohol is consumed that happens to increase the desire for fatty foods.
A person with an alcohol use disorder may develop a condition called alcoholic ketoacidosis. This can result when malnourishment sets in, which can reduce the body’s insulin production. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. Symptoms include fatigue, slow movement, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, irregular breathing, dizziness, thirst, and lightheadedness.
When alcoholism is allowed to progress serious health conditions will emerge, including alcoholic liver disease. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, jaundice, edema, fever, itchy skin, weakness, fluid in the abdomen, and blood in vomit and stools. The only chance at a cure from cirrhosis is abstinence in combination with medication and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.
Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Alcoholism
It is common for someone seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder to arrive at rehab with some serious health issues. These are the result of the disruption of body systems due to the chronic misuse of alcohol, and ignoring one’s overall nutritional needs. The body uses a certain amount of nutrients just to metabolize the alcohol. If the body’s supply of these nutrients is not replenished through diet, the body cells become deprived of essential nutrients. In addition, alcohol inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable molecules as the pancreas becomes less efficient. As a result of these issues, body functions and overall health suffer.
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with various nutritional deficiencies, including:
Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
While there are three levels of severity for alcohol use disorder, many of these warning signs are fundamental across all levels:
Continually drinking in isolation to the point of intoxication is a sign of an alcohol use disorder.
Blackouts occur when drinking large amounts of alcohol leads to loss of memory of certain events, places they went, or things they did or said while intoxicated.
A problem drinker will notice that they are incrementally drinking more alcohol to get the desired effect of the alcohol. Increased levels of alcohol consumption only make them more dependent on it in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Lying to cover up excessive drinking or hiding alcohol around the house, in the car, or at work.
Excessive drinking can take a toll on relationships with a spouse, children, friends, and coworkers because the drinking takes precedence over them. Mood swings, irritability, and anger are also common in those with an AUD.
The alcoholic will begin to avoid social gatherings because they cannot control their drinking, which can lead to embarrassment, harassment, or altercations.
Custody battles, driving under the influence of alcohol potentially resulting in a DUI/DWI or a car accident, or other legal problems can result.
As excessive drinking escalates, repercussions begin to mount. These might include problems functioning satisfactorily on the job due to being hung over or reduced cognitive functioning, financial problems due to spending on booze or not paying bills on time, and other adverse effects caused by neglecting responsibilities.
As alcoholism becomes more severe, the brain and nervous system adjust to the constant influx of alcohol. This leads to increased alcohol cravings during periods when one is not drinking.
The most glaring sign of alcoholism are the withdrawal symptoms that emerge when attempting to not drink. These symptoms include hand tremors, nausea and vomiting, irritability, insomnia, confusion, headache, and anxiety. In addition, physical signs of alcoholism include facial bloating, a ruddy complexion, abdominal distention due to ascites, fatigue, blood-shot eyes, and thinning hair.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
Treatment for alcoholism is centered on making significant changes in the way one responds to stressors or triggers. To achieve this, there are several treatment elements that are designed to work together. These include:
Restoring Health in Recovery
Restoring physical health is essential for a successful recovery outcome. The nutritionally depleted brain and body need to be cared for through a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and getting quality sleep.
Call for a Free Confidential Assessment
The Treatment Specialist is an Online Resource for Addiction and Mental Health Topics
The Treatment Specialist offers a knowledgeable team of experts in the addiction and mental health industries to provide important information regarding substance use or mental health disorders. It is difficult to understand the nature of this serious disease and the consequences to one’s health. You may wonder why do alcoholics stop eating food, and worry about deteriorating health of a loved one. This free service can guide you or a loved one to the relevant information about alcohol use disorders, nutrition, and treatment options. If your loved one is struggling with the nutritional deficiencies related to alcoholism, take the first step toward helping them restore their physical and mental health. Contact The Treatment Specialist today for free assistance at (866) 644-7911.