Loss of Appetite During Cancer Treatment
your appetite or desire to eat is a common side effect of cancer and cancer treatment,
and can lead to weight loss. Cancer patients who maintain their weight during
treatment tend to have fewer complications from treatment and often feel
stronger both physically and mentally.
Suggestions to improve nutritional
intake while experiencing a poor appetite:
- Eat five to six small
meals or snacks every day instead of three large meals.
- A snack basket may
take the guess work out of deciding what to eat. Take five to seven bites of a
nutritious snack every few hours.
- Recommended snack
foods include: trail mix, dry cereal, individual packets of peanut butter,
200-calorie protein bars (several varieties and flavors available), shelled
hemp seed (sprinkle on yogurt), packets of instant oat meal and dried or canned
- Add extra protein and
calories to the foods that you eat in order to consume more concentrated
calories in a smaller amount of food.
include: add ½ to 1 cup of non-fat powdered dry milk to boxed pudding, mashed
potatoes or oatmeal; whisk eggs into soup while it’s cooking; stir canned
coconut milk into sauces, smoothies or soups.
- Consume protein-rich
foods two to three times a day, such as lean meat, fish, tuna salad, poultry,
eggs, nuts or peanut butter, seeds, dried beans, lentils, milk or yogurt,
cottage cheese, cheese or soy foods.
- Enlist friends and
family to help in food preparation and shopping, or as eating companions. Most
people eat more when sharing a meal with others.
- Eat larger meals when
you feel well and are rested. For many people this means eating a good
breakfast with foods you can tolerate, even if they are not traditional breakfast
- Try foods outside of
your usual menu, such as a fruit milkshake, yogurt and fruit parfaits or pureed
fruits. As your tastes change, you may be surprised to discover what foods
taste good to you.
- Ask your doctor or
dietitian about medical nutrition supplements such as Ensure®, Boost® and Carnation® Breakfast Essentials™.
- Talk with your nurse
or social worker if anxiety, fear, depression or other feelings affect your
interest in food.
- Get plenty of rest.
Fatigue is a common symptom during cancer treatment. It is hard to eat well
when you are tired.
- Be as physically
active as possible with your doctor’s permission. Walking or other physical
activity stimulates appetite and decreases fatigue.
Be as physically active as possible with your
doctor’s permission. Walking or other physical activity stimulates appetite and