How do you know if you’re eating enough

I am writing about how to know if you’re eating enough in this blog, and oddly some people believe you will gain weight if you don’t eat enough. That is the starvation mode myth and it’s crazy. If that were true then how did Mahatma Gandhi, the man from India, famous for civil disobedience, who went on multiple hunger strikes get so skinny?

Gaining weight is not a sign that you’re not eating enough although it can definitely be a sign that you’re eating too much. Yes, eating less causes weight loss, but how can you know if you’re eating enough and why does it matter?

Eating enough is necessary to avoid undernutrition.

If you’re not eating enough your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs from food for you to build and repair tissue or maintain good health. It’s usually not recommended for adults to eat fewer than 1200 calories daily without medical supervision.

Weight loss almost almost always results in both fat and muscle loss. The less you’re eating the more muscle you lose. It seems like a lower number on the scale is worth losing whatever can be lost, but when you lose muscle your body burns fewer calories at rest.

You also don’t look as fit which is another way of saying you won’t look as good. You can have a higher number on the scale because of muscle but wear smaller clothing sizes than somebody who weighs less than you but has more body fat and less muscle. You also can eat a little more because your body is burning calories at a faster rate. Who wouldn’t want that?

What do you really want – a lower number on the scale or looking and feeling great?

Eating more is preferable for a lot of reasons when losing weight, but there are a lot of people who think it’s better to eat less. Having enough to eat has a lot of benefits, but not eating enough has a lot of drawbacks. They include:

Lack of energy

Losing weight is associated with improved energy, but if you are not eating enough you may never experience that heightened level of energy. If you feel drained of energy and finding it hard to engage in normal activities you may not be eating enough.

Grouchy and irritable

A constant state of hunger doesn’t improve your disposition. It does the contrary, your normal cheerfulness is replaced with a state of irritability and aggravation. If little things that don’t normally bother are driving you crazy and you’re having a hard time not snapping at family and friends you may not be eating enough.


You need to eat to poop. If your poops are hard, dry, difficult to pass and infrequent it could be because there’s not enough bulk to your stools. Under-eating messes up your thyroid and that can also cause constipation. If you’re having poop problems you may not be eating enough.

Bingeing behavior

If you aren’t eating enough most of the time you may experience episodes of bingeing and oddly the foods you’re eating aren’t even food you especially enjoy. If you find yourself indulging in this behavior and not even finding any particular pleasure in the foods you’re bingeing you may not be eating enough.

Other signs

You may also experience constantly feeling cold, dizziness, headaches, and brain fogginess if you’re not eating enough. You may feel depressed, have trouble sleeping and experience hair loss. You might also notice you’re hungry all the time.

Eating 900 calories a day for one or two weeks is okay but if you’re in it for the long haul you should be eating at least 1200 – 1450 calories a day depending on your gender, current weight and activity level. Older, smaller, sedentary women need fewer calories, younger, heavier, active men need more.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.