A few months ago, I started experiencing a loss of appetite and it has been really disconcerting.
If you have been following my blog over the years, you might have concluded that I was an irredeemable glutton, such was my penchant to share endless gastronomical conquests, replete with mouthwatering photos.
I have loved food, especially unhealthy junk food, all my life. Barring the occasional loss of appetite due to temporal sickness, depression or jetlag, I’ve always lived to eat and looked forward to every meal with hungry impatience, always dreaming of all sorts of savoury delights rolling around my taste buds.
And then, all of that suddenly gone. Almost overnight.
I woke up one day and found no urge to eat. No food excited me, not even my favourite things, and I have many of those, trust me. One day rolled into two days, which rolled into one month, two months.
Piers would ask me, “If you could have anything to eat right now, anything at all, what would it be?” And I would say, “Nothing at all!”
Putting something into my mouth to chew and swallow started seeming a bit like a chore, even when I was hungry. I did still occasionally enjoy tasty food, but the enjoyment would be at about 30% of what it should have been.
“O.M.G. I’ve died and gone to heaven” became “Okay, this is quite tasty so it’s less of a chore to eat”.
At first I thought it was because I was sick of the food in England, since the variety there is quite limited, and I’ve always craved variety. I thought my appetite would go back to normal once I was back in Singapore and I looked forward to eating all the food I missed.
But I came back to Singapore and nothing changed. Faced with all the best food you could find in the whole wide world, my appetite remain unmoved.
It has been two weeks since I’ve returned to Singapore and I have woken up with dismay every day, no urge to eat, thinking of each day wasted that I’m not scarfing down chwee kueh for breakfast, chicken rice for lunch and chilli crab for dinner. I’m only in Singapore for six weeks.
But I just have no interest in eating, whatsoever.
My mind ruminated all the possible reasons. Prolonged jetlag? General malaise from having finished my course and undecided on my next step? Old age? I did use to wonder as a kid why adults never seemed to want to eat tidbits all day, even when they had all the money and freedom to do so.
And then, today, I suddenly put two and two together and discovered the culprit of my malediction. It is the stupid Omega 3 fish oil capsules I’ve been taking daily since Novemeber last year!
It didn’t cross my mind that something like that would suppress my appetite. I started taking it a month before my exams because our psychology lecturer told us that fish oils supplements have been proven to boost brain function. After that, I continued taking it because I noticed that my skin was getting smoother, too.
I think my appetite might have started buggering off around that time. I had then stocked my snack cupboard to the ridiculous brim for the exam period, expecting it to be all gone within weeks. After my exams, the cupboard remained untouched, still stocked well enough to last me through an apocalypse and a half.
(I don’t have a photo of my snack cupboard in England, but it’s bigger than this one I had in Singapore about 5 years ago.)
After my exams, I would literally not eat until about 7 pm when Piers would get home from work and we would have dinner together. For a couple of months, there were many days in which I ate just one meal a day. (Other days, I would force myself to eat something in the day.) But dinner would be a huge meal, which made up the calories my sedentary lifestyle needed, although it was probably not too good for general health.
So, today, I woke up and I looked at the bottle of fish oil capsules on my table and something clicked in my brain. I got up and Googled “fish oil suppresses appetite” and there was my answer.
While the evidence is compelling — the articles confirm it and my timeline fits — I can’t say for sure that fish oil is the main cause of my lost appetite. I suppose I will have to stop taking it for a while to see if the good ol’ appetite comes back. I only have 3.5 weeks left to eat my fill in Singapore!
If I am right, then I have found a way for me to maintain a healthy diet while at the same time benefit from the multitudes of health benefits of this supplement. I’ve never been able to stick to a healthy diet plan for my junk food cravings always got the better of me.
I do miss foodgasms, though, so now I’m kinda undecided what to do.
By the way, this is not an advertorial for fish oil or a recommendation to try it or whatever. Take it at your own risk and stick with reliable brands!
Update: 6 July 2017
Four years after publishing this post, I’m still getting questions about this, so I’m going to answer them here!
FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT FAQ
Q: What brand of fish oil did you use?
A: Seven Seas
Q: Can you show me a photo of the exact one you used?
A: I’m sorry, I can’t! Seven Seas has since updated its entire range of fish oils so the one I took isn’t there anymore. All I know is I chose a fish oil that promised to boost brain power and memory. :D
Q: So, which fish oil would you recommend?
A: Keeping in mind that I’m no expert, I would recommend reputable brands to be on the safe side, but also keep in mind that even reputable brands have been found to exaggerate the health benefits of their supplements. But, generally, what you want is Omega-3, so just look for that.
Q: Fish oil or cod liver oil?
A: I chose fish oil for its higher content of Omega-3.
Q: How many pills did you take daily and at what time, etc?
A: I don’t really remember, sorry. Just follow the instructions on the bottle!
Q: How long did it take before your appetite went away?
A: About two weeks.
Q: Did your appetite come back after stopping the supplements?
A: Yes! It probably took a few weeks for my appetite to go back to normal.
Q: Any other advice?
A: Yes. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Always do a lot of research before forming your own opinions, and consult your doctor when in doubt. If you’re pregnant or diabetic or have any major health conditions, definitely consult your doctor before taking any supplements!