Nutritional Management of Loss of Appetite During Cancer Treatment
Nutritional management of treatment side effects
There is more to nutrition during cancer and cancer therapy than getting enough calories
and protein. The foods you choose also help you cope with side effects, such as loss
of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chewing and swallowing difficulties, and
As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his
or her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure
to discuss with your cancer care team possible side effects of treatment before the
Nutritional management of loss of appetite
There are many things that cause a loss of appetite. Nausea, vomiting, or changes
in food’s taste or smell all may contribute to a person losing his or her appetite.
Sometimes, the cancer treatment itself will make you feel like not eating. Your emotional
state and how you cope with your cancer may also cause a loss of appetite. Talk to
your healthcare provider about these things because, in addition to the eating and
nutrition tips here, there may be medicines or other suggestions that will help you.
Suggestions for managing a loss of appetite include the following:
If you feel you cannot eat regular food for any meal, try liquid meal replacements.
If you cannot eat very much at one time, eat throughout the day. Try eating small,
meals often. Small high-protein, high-calorie snacks can make up for larger meals.
Keep easy to prepare and nutritious foods within reach so you can have something whenever
you feel like it. Do not forget to take a snack with you whenever you go out. Try
these snack ideas:
Cheese and crackers
If you cannot eat solid foods and cannot drink liquid supplements, try drinking other
beverages. Juice, soup or broth, and other similar fluids can provide important calories
Change the way you prepare certain foods or the time you eat them to make them more
Try soft, cool, or frozen foods.
If possible, try eating something at bedtime. It will not affect your appetite for
the next meal.
Take advantage of times when you have a good appetite and eat well.
Do not drink too much while you eat, and stop drinking a half hour to an hour before
you plan to have a meal. This may improve your appetite.
Plan an enjoyable meal. Make food attractive and relax while you eat. Eat with family
Do some physical activity each day even if you feel tired. Even a very short walk,
a light housekeeping task, or playing with a pet can increase your appetite.