Some people just don’t feel like eating breakfast.  Some regularly feel vaguely nauseas about eating early in the day, others just aren’t hungry.  Contrast that to many who wolf down breaky as if they’ve been starved for the last week!  Let’s look at why some people feel nausea or a lack of appetite before breakfast.

Causes of nausea

nauseas womanIf we discount a long list of other issues – pregnancy, overindulging in alcohol the night before, anxiety, migraine, kidney disease, dehydration or intra-cranial pressure – then the likely causes of morning nausea are narrowed significantly to:

  • A too empty stomach can be irritated by stomach acid overnight
  • Blood glucose fluctuations caused by hormone releases overnight
  • Other hormones may be causing this side-effect
  • A big meal close to bed time or a late night snack before bed can depress the appetite and potentially cause stomach acid and contents to reflux up the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation and nausea
  • Circadian rhythms can affect our hormones, once again causing rather vague side-effects (are you getting enough good quality sleep?)

What to do

If you don’t feel fantastic about eating breaky as soon as you get up, then delay for a while.  Lots of people eat breakfast after morning exercise, when they arrive at work or at morning tea time.  The idea that breakfast is needed to kick start your metabolism has been questioned in recent research, so if you feel yuk about eating early then just eat when you feel you are able to.

Not hungry?

If you just don’t feel hungry regularly, consider:

  • When you eat the night before
  • How much you eat the night before
  • And your general health – do you have any digestive issues?

Vigorous exercise can depress your appetite so if you aren’t feeling that hungry straight after your morning training, that isn’t surprising and is nothing to worry about.

You might find eating your evening meal earlier and/or cutting out that suppertime snack may be the way to go.

So, if nausea and a lack of appetite persists and it’s bothersome, what should we do?  Check with your GP.  Take a record of how often and how severe it is (give the nausea a rating out of 10) and your GP can do some investigations.

But we should have a big breakfast, shouldn’t we?

Everyone is different.  If you like a big breakfast then have a big breakfast, as long as it fits with your healthy lifestyle goals.  If that’s the case, you might choose to have a smaller lunch and evening meal.  A recent meta-analysis suggests breakfast may add unwanted energy (kilojoules) to the daily intake of those who are trying to lose weight.  Ideally, every meal should be giving you the nourishment your body requires, within your social and cultural norms, but without excess energy – so choose wisely!

Suggestions for healthy breakfasts

No matter when you eat it, we’ll call the first meal of the day breakfast as you are literally breaking your fast.avocado on toast

Lighter breakfast options may include a fruit and dairy or plant based milk smoothie, a small bowl of high fibre cereal with milk and fruit, or some plain yoghurt with a sprinkle of seeds or fruit.

Heartier breakfasts may include poached eggs with wilted spinach or kale on grainy toast, avocado on rye sourdough toast, or overnight oats with nuts, fruit and yoghurt.

To summarize

  • If you are regularly feeling nauseas before breakfast and concerned about it then see your GP; causes need investigation as many are a bit vague.
  • Try eating breakfast later.
  • For those not feeling hungry, consider when and how much you eat during the evening, you might choose to eat less, earlier.

When you do eat, enjoy it!

Bon appetite!


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Post bydale cooke

I'm a nutritionist and dietitian with 26 years of experience helping people improve their health. Can I help you improve your health?