Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is common in cancer patients due to treatment (radiation or chemotherapy), illness, fatigue, pain, depression, or any combination of these. Good nutrition is an essential part of your recovery. You require additional protein and calories to build new tissue. Maintaining adequate food intake prevents weight loss and lack of energy, and improves your tolerance to the cancer treatment. Therefore, you are encouraged to do whatever you can to stimulate your appetite.

Suggestions to Improve Appetite

A balanced diet of nutritious foods is essential to provide the protein, vitamins, minerals, and other elements needed to keep your body functioning normally. If you are not feeling particularly hungry, try these tips.

  • Eat small meals more often.
  • Snack between meals and at bedtime. Make the snack high-calorie and high-protein for more benefit with a smaller amount. Examples are sandwiches, milkshakes, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly on toast, cereal with whole milk.
  • Light exercise for 10-15 minutes before you eat will help stimulate your appetite.
  • Concentrate on making your meal more enjoyable: attractive settings, pleasant music, and good company.
  • Adjust the seasonings and flavorings in your food to accommodate taste changes.
  • Avoid foods or beverages that have an overpowering aroma. Try cool or cold selections such a cottage cheese and fruit plate or a chef salad with meat, nuts, cheese and/or eggs.
  • Rely on your favorite foods when your appetite is diminished.
  • Prepare foods that are pleasing to your sense of smell and taste to stimulate appetite.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications that may help relieve these symptoms.