It's easy to get caught up in the idea of the "perfect body image" and trying to lose weight, but it's important that you do not lose sight of your health. Beyond eating disorders like anorexia, under-eating can happen to those who are trying their hand at dieting or even those who are under a lot of stress. In the long run, it can lead to unwanted health consequences. Here are nine signs that suggest you are not eating enough. 

1. You aren't losing any more weight (if you're trying to)

A large calorie deficiency can cause significant changes in the way your body functions. Your body makes other modifications to reserve calories like basically going into conservation mode, causing your metabolism to slow down. In turn, this can result in stalled weight loss and body fat retention. 

2. Sleep is no longer your best friend

When you're stressed, it can be hard to fall or stay asleep. Nutrition expert Chris Kresser spoke to Registered Dietitian Lauren Schoenfeld on the effects low glucose levels have on sleep. According to Schoenfeld, mixing under-eating with overexercising will make it hard for your liver to have the proper glycogen stores necessary for a stable blood sugar level. If that's the case, stress hormones will be released to promote the creation of glucose. And if enough stress hormones are released they can wake you up. 

3. Mood swings

I'm sure no one gets pumped about to busting into a spontaneous cry sesh, but sometimes when you undereat, you can feel out of control. Schoenfeld claims that when blood sugar drops, brain functionality decreases. Your self-control is one of the first cognitive processes that suffers when brain functionality decreases, resulting in mood swings. 

4. You're always tired

44 Memes That Nail What It's Like to Have Fibromyalgia

on Pinterest

If you're getting enough sleep and still feeling constantly tired, you might be able to throw blame on your diet. Registered Dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin told SELF that "calories equal energy. When your calories are too low, your energy is too low too." Simple as that. 

Any energy you do have will go to your most important organs first, like your brain and your heart. And after using up any energy you have left, you'll start to feel tired. Especially when you're pulling all-nighters at the library or downtown, make sure you're eating enough to help you get through the day. 

5. You get sick too easily


on Pinterest

Getting sick is such a drag. A common cold can really hold you back, from performing your best in class to missing out on nights out with your friends. In an article for, Registered Dietitian Cynthia Sass reinforces the common idea that not eating enough food leads to a lack of nutrients, which leads to a weakened immune system, therefore, making your body more susceptible to getting sick. No matter what your roommate says, Drinking an Emergen-C or taking Vitamin C tablets is not enough — you need to fuel the body properly with real food.  

6. You're always constipated

You might think that eating less would lead to fewer stomach aches, you know, with less food to mess with your intestines. But that is totally not the case. Under-eating can actually cause constipation, and for two reasons. For one, you might not be getting enough fiber, which is essential in adding bulk to your stool and moving it through the intestines. And two, not eating enough can decrease your water intake, making you dehydrated — hydration is essential in helping fiber do its job.  

7. Your blood sugar is all over the place

If you've ever felt shaky or just totally weak, you might need to have a little more to eat. Not only do you need the fuel to energize you, but Schoenfeld states that "under-eating can easily cause hypoglycemia, especially when combined with exercise." Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is characterized by many symptoms including hunger, shakiness and weakness — all of which are no fun.

8. You can never get warm  

No, you're not just "cold-blooded," you might actually have a real issue getting warm. Registered Holistic Nutritionist and blogger Meg Doll claims body temperature drops when the body is low on calories. Additionally, an inadequate amount of carbohydrates "can also cause us to feel uncomfortably cold." So next time you reach for your sweater, reach for something to snack on as well. 

9. Excessive hair loss 

A little hair loss is normal — the average female loses 50 to 150 strands of hair a day. But when you start pulling out large clumps, it's not just a problem for your shower drain.

In the same discussion with Kresser mentioned before, Schoenfeld also discusses hair loss as a consequence of under-eating. Hair loss is a result of a deficiency in calories and/or proteins and "is exacerbated by the hormones that develop from chronic under-eating, including a drop in sex hormones like progesterone, testosterone and estrogen."

She also states that hair loss is a symptom of hypothyroidism, which can result from a long-term calorie deficiency as well. 

These are some of the many symptoms that can occur if you are not consuming enough calories. If you have any of these symptoms and think you may be under-eating, create a nutrition and physical activity plan using a diet tracker. Of course, you should also consult your doctor about any dietary changes you're making to ensure that you're going about it the right way. If losing weight is your goal, it is possible (and best) to consume enough calories, get adequate nutrients and lose weight at the same time — it's all about balance.