A slight drop in appetite is typical with age. And because your sense of smell and sense of taste decline over the years, food can seem less appetizing, notes Ronan Factora, M.D., a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic. Chronic conditions such as dementia and kidney failure can reduce appetite, too.
Smart solutions: You don’t need to be overly concerned unless you’re unintentionally losing weight. But to ward off problems, stay as physically active as possible. Exercise, including resistance training, helps you retain muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism humming and potentially ramps up appetite.
And consider tai chi: A study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine last April found that older adults who practiced this regularly reported increased appetite.
If you get full quickly, consider eating five smaller daily meals instead of three larger ones (with protein in at least three meals). Add healthy nutrients and extra calories, if needed, by including milk powder, egg whites, olive oil, and drinks such as fruit smoothies in your diet.
To stimulate your appetite, suck on hard candy before meals, says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D.N., a nutrition professor at the University of North Florida. Prescription appetite stimulants such as megestrol acetate (Megace and generic) improve appetite only slightly but boost the risk of blood clots and fluid retention.